The day Bonnie and Brandan’s lives were flipped upside down started like any other. They went on a morning stroll with their two children, India and Moses. But India, who was fifteen months old at the time, was more tired than usual. As the day went on, she developed a high fever and intense chills. Knowing something wasn’t right, Bonnie brought her to BC Children’s Hospital.
Doctors immediately noticed India’s skin colouring was off and ordered blood work – which revealed that her white blood cell count was dangerously low. Shortly after, Bonnie and Brandan’s worst fears came true: India was diagnosed with a form of childhood cancer called acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL).
India quickly started chemotherapy, but after several weeks, she wasn’t responding to the treatment. Doctors determined that she would need to endure an additional six months of intensive chemotherapy to treat what had become a high-risk leukemia.
That spring was extremely challenging for the family – especially as they weren’t able to see many of their family and friends due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Having people visiting in the hospital was my lifeline,” Bonnie said. “When that went away, it was really intense because you realize how much you rely on other people’s support during these times.”
Still, the family pushed through their darkest moments with extraordinary strength. India had her last round of chemotherapy in June 2020 and today, the soon-to-be three-year-old is in the maintenance phase of treatment.
Although India’s journey has been remarkable, it’s far from over. She will continue to visit BC Children’s until she transitions into adult care. There is also a possibility she may develop long-term negative effects from treatments used to heal her – a risk that 75 per cent of children who survive cancer currently face.
At BC Children’s Hospital, world-leading experts are working relentlessly to improve the lives of children like India – but doing so is a huge undertaking. That’s where BC Children’s Hospital Foundation comes in. As the hospital’s fundraising arm, the Foundation partners with people, companies, schools and more to fund the groundbreaking research and technology needed to create lasting change.
One of the Foundation’s signature fundraising initiatives – Jean Up – is quickly approaching. For the entire month of May, supporters can make an online donation and then proudly wear their jeans to show others what they stand for: helping kids get out of their hospital gown and back into their jeans.
By taking part, supporters will join companies and schools from across the province to help conquer childhood illnesses. All donations made by schools in May will be matched by Odlum Brown Limited, an independent, full-service investment firm (up to $30,000). The month-long campaign will also feature online contests sponsored by the official Denim Partner Mavi Jeans.
Supporters can join the #JeanUp movement by making a donation at JeanUp.ca and by wearing your jeans at home and tagging @bcchf on social media.