Waterloo Wellington LHIN marks September as Childhood Cancer Awareness Month by Celebrating Care Close to Home: Meet Ashton

Ashton and his momAshton was 21 months-old when his family finally got an answer.

“After a while, we knew something was just wrong,” says his mother Janelle. “He had fevers and ear infections. He had just started daycare and was obviously exposed to a lot more germs and infections. But then he was always in pain…”

Janelle took Ashton to Grand River Hospital’s emergency department where a diagnosis was made. Ashton has neuroblastoma, a rare type of cancer that mostly affects children and young infants. He was transferred to London Health Sciences for immediate care and treatment. 

Cancer has taken its toll on Ashton’s entire family from his brother, 11-year old Aidan, to his parents Bernie and Janelle.

“Ashton’s best friend is his brother Aidan because we can’t go out where he could be exposed to other illnesses. I can’t work to support our family now because I literally have to be able to drop everything to go to London for week-long in hospital treatments, and regular visits to Grand River Hospital’s children’s clinic,” explains Janelle. “That’s okay, that is what you have to do as a parent. This is just our new normal, our new reality.”

Grand River Hospital’s Pediatric Oncology Group of Ontario (POGO) satellite clinic opened in 1998 to provide routine care to Waterloo Wellington kids with cancer, close to home. This allows families from our communities to avoid travelling to Toronto, Hamilton or London for treatment, an option that is costly both financially and emotionally. Last year, the POGO clinic had 759 visits to provide blood transfusions, treatments and platelets to local kids. Ashton just turned two and continues to undergo treatments in London and Kitchener.

“We are grateful that Ashton can get some of the care he needs here, where we live,” says Janelle. “We can spend more time together, still be a family. Travelling for treatments can be really, really tough.”

Ashton at the clinicAshton

pogo graphic

What can you do to help:

Donate blood: Like many children with cancer, Ashton receives many blood transfusions. Contact your local donation centre through 1-888-todonate to make an appointment. 

POGO has a fund to help families with day-to-day expenses. To learn more, visits www.pogo.ca.

There are five tertiary centres of care in major cities across Ontario. POGO created the Satellite Clinic Program to transfer some aspects of a child’s care to community hospitals closer to home. POGO Satellite Clinics are located in areas where the caseload is large enough to maintain the expertise needed, and where patient travel, cost and family disruption will be reduced. Grand River Hospital is one of POGOs seven satellite clinics that offers care and support to families.