Camp Oochigeas is a privately funded, volunteer based organization that provides kids with cancer and kids affected by childhood cancer with a unique opportunity for growth through challenging, fun, enriching and magical experiences.
At Camp Oochigeas, we give children with cancer the chance to escape to a world where sunshine and laughter intertwine, a natural wonderland where friendships and memories replace worries about hospitals and illness. Much more than a summer camp, Camp Oochigeas provides year-round programs for children affected by childhood cancer at our site in Muskoka, at the Hospital for Sick Children and in the community.One of the most devastating things about childhood cancer is that it removes children from their peer group. Oochigeas is a place where these kids can share their experiences, insights and dreams with other kids their age who understand them.
My good friend’s son Nolan is the reason I got involved with fundraising for this cause.
On January 29, 2009, at just 3 years old, Nolan was diagnosed in a matter of hours with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. At this point, his blood counts were so low that his local hospital went against the Hospital for Sick Kids protocol and transfused him with some blood before sending him. Several comments were made about his counts not being life-sustaining, so he was a pretty sick little boy. He was transferred to Sick Kids immediately, the diagnosis was confirmed and treatment was started on Feb 1, 2009.
He responded well to treatment and was classified as an early responder. Everything was sailing along smoothly. After 3 weeks in the hospital, we were sent home.
On day 29, while registering for the clinic to have some tests done and receive more chemo, Nolan suffered a seizure. It took 70 minutes and a lot of drugs to get him to stop seizing. A CT scan revealed that he had a stroke due to a very large blood clot in the right side of his brain. This was the result of a chemo that he received on day 4 of his treatment.
After spending 3 days in the PICU unresponsive, he started to wake up and made quick progress rebounding from his stroke. He still sees an occupational therapist today and has some small motor skill delays as a result of his stroke. The blood clot meant that Nolan needed to be on blood thinner injections twice a day for 6 months. We were taught how to give him the injections at home. This also meant that once weekly, he was admitted to the hospital for “bridging” before his lumbar punctures were done. Bridging was necessary to let the amount of blood thinner in his system drop quickly for the procedure, and come back up quickly after the procedure.
In June 2009, Nolan was due to receive the same chemo that had caused his stoke. It’s an important chemo in the treatment of ALL so it was necessary for him to have it again. All precautions were taken to ensure that his blood clotting functions were within the normal range and his brain clot was not growing. He was given the shot of chemo, and within about 5 minutes, he dropped to the floor and had an anaphylactic reaction to the chemo. His throat was closing and he wasn’t breathing well. All of this was anticipated by both us and the nursing staff, because we knew Nolan hadn’t reacted normally to the first shot. He was quickly given some steroids to help him breath and was admitted for 5 days for observation.
In August 2009, Nolan finished the intense portion of his treatment and entered a phase called Maintenance Therapy. Maintenance will continue until approximately May 2012. Boys have 3 years and 3 months of treatment, while girls only have 2 years and 3 months of treatment. In September 2009, we finished giving his blood thinner shots which also ended his frequent hospital admissions.
During all of Nolan’s hospital stays and clinic visit he has spent hours enjoying activities put on by Camp Oochigeas. Camp Ooch staff run a program called “Ooch on the 8th” for inpatients, and they also run programs out of the day clinic. Nolan loves doing crafts with them, playing Guess Who and Uno, and playing bingo. They also have “campfires”, scavenger hunts around the hospital, and they even bring activities to kids’ rooms who are in isolation, so they don’t miss out. These staff members genuinely enjoy spending time with the kids. Outside of the hospital, Nolan has enjoyed day camp activities at the “Urban Ooch” facility and has recently spent his first weekend at the residential camp in Rosseau, ON. The residential camp has a full-time doctor and nursing staff so every child can enjoy camp regardless of where they are in their treatment protocol. Kids can get chemo treatments, blood transfusions and blood testing done while at camp, if necessary. It really lets kids be kids and lets parents have a break from treatment knowing that trained staff from Sick Kids are on hand at the camp.
Nolan is still followed by a stroke team, a thrombosis team and his oncology team at Sick Kids. He will be followed there until he turns 18, at which point his care will be turned over to his family doctor.
Thank you Erin for sharing this story with me/us.
I hope that by sharing it here, I have encouraged more of you to help us raise money for Kids With Cancer and support this cause. I run up to 20 races per year, but I only fundraise for this one because it is very close to home and close to my heart. I would very much appreciate your support!
For some added incentive, I have $75 for CSN Stores up for grabs!
I will be sending a personalized little something to the winner as well.
- ONE ENTRY PER DOLLAR DONATED!
- 5 bonus entries if you donate today
- 5 bonus entries if you donated last year AND this year
Please note that CSN only ships to the US and Canada.