Age: 6
Hometown: Swift Current
Condition: T-cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia

Friends and family of six-year-old Rustyn describe her as a positive ray of sunshine. She loves anything girly, being a big sister and having Taylor Swift dance parties with her mom, Ashlyn. However, things quickly took a turn for the young girl and her family this past May.

Rustyn was struggling to catch her breath more than usual. Ashlyn, who is a licensed practical nurse, assumed it was asthma. They went to their family doctor in Swift Current, SK who agreed Rustyn showed symptoms of asthma. She ran some extra tests and took an x-ray so pneumonia could be ruled out, which led to something much more unexpected – the young girl had a mass on her lung.

“I swear my soul had left my body by that point. I couldn’t hear anything but ringing and I thought I was going to throw up and pass out before our nurse, who is also my co-worker and friend, caught me in her arms and we just cried until reality set in,” Ashlyn said.

Things moved very quickly from there. Rustyn was airlifted to Saskatchewan’s only Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) at Jim Pattison Children’s Hospital (JPCH). Rustyn’s medical team knew they had a short window to treat the large tumour that was compressing her lungs, as there was a chance for the tumour to break and block her airway.

The next couple of days felt like a blur for Rustyn and her family, as they knew their lives would drastically change. Rustyn was diagnosed with T-cell acute lymphoblastic (T-ALL) leukemia and began treatment immediately.

Rustyn has made her family extremely proud as she takes on her medical journey with bravery and positivity. As Rustyn continues chemotherapy and treatment at JPCH over the next couple of years, Ashlyn says they are incredibly grateful for the life-saving care she is receiving.

“Everyone is always in high spirits. They’re informative and respectful. They make you feel like you’re in safe hands all the time, no matter what. I can’t say enough good things about our team and everyone who has been involved in Rustyn’s care,” Ashlyn said.

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