With an incredibly positive outlook on life combined with a smile every morning, you would never have guessed that Sophia has been through such devastating circumstances, even at only five years old.
When her parents first moved to Kamsack, Saskatchewan, they didn’t expect to be rushing their three-year-old to Saskatoon for medical tests. Unfortunately, they soon learned about Sophia’s diagnosis of Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. Throughout the whirlwind of events, Sophia had to undergo many blood and platelet transfusions as well as regular chemotherapy treatments.
“When I first learned of her diagnosis, a million questions raced through my mind,” says Sophia’s mom, Shanna. “Is my child going to make it? What now? What will life be like? After the initial shock wore off, we scrambled to answer these questions on our own.”
In total, Sophia has had 743 at-home chemo treatments and 23 lumbar punctures, with a total of 40 days in hospital and 783 days of actual treatment. The turn of events when Sophia was only three years old completely turned her parent’s lives upside down. It happened on Easter Monday of 2015, and from then on they woke up each morning having to accept reality over and over again, despite how hard it was to believe.
“I thought I was coping well and I thought we were going to fight cancer with flying colours because we just kept that type of attitude,” says Shanna. “But then you realize that this is reality, and it’s so hard to accept. You just have to remain strong no matter what and take nothing for granted.”
Telling a three-year-old that they have cancer is something no parent wants to be tasked with. However, every day Sophia proves that she’s a ‘happy-go-lucky’ child and doesn’t let much bother her. She sometimes talks about being in pain, but just by looking at her and seeing her abundance of energy, you would never know she’s sick.
She had her last IV chemo in May and her last oral chemo was June 11. The family now lives in Canora, where Sophia is attentive in her kindergarten class and loves playing and learning with other kids at school. Because she previously missed out, she now wants to try every sport that she’s never had the chance to try, including swimming, dance and taekwondo with her nine-year-old sister Emilie. Sophia’s outlook on life constantly reminds her family that just because something bad happened, doesn’t mean life itself has to be bad.
In light of the situation, Sophia now spreads kindness and helps others by taking truckloads of toys and non-perishable goods to the Ronald McDonald House in Saskatoon (including 299 boxes of band-aids!), as well as delivering toys and gifts to children at the Cancer Clinic. She strongly believes in the mentality of ‘pay it forward’ after receiving a pumpkin from the Chase Kraynick Pay it Forward Initiative. In the future, she wants to be a doctor and help kids like her.
“We remain strong for Sophia, but she’s the one that keeps us pushing through the hardest days with her bright smile,” says Shanna. “Even while being faced with life’s biggest challenge, she’s so positive.”