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In the summer of 2021 Clarke started to pick up random illnesses. At this point Covid restrictions had been eased and people had started to gather again. Our family thought Clarke was getting sick because she had not been exposed to germs from others for awhile. In September our family got Covid, Clarke’s energy never picked back up. After Clarke’s isolation period was over we took her into the walk-in clinic to get looked at. She had little energy, started snoring at night time, and her face was swollen. Our doctor was sure it was just allergies. A couple days later we noticed a swollen lymph node on her crotch region ( didn’t know what it was at the time). This was very alarming to my husband and I so we brought Clarke back into the walk in clinic the next day. We were so fortunate and had the best walk in doctor ever. She instantly knew something was wrong based on all of her swollen lymph nodes in her face. She sent us for blood work, and xrays.

October 23rd 2021 was the day we got the call telling us that we needed to go to the Children’s hospital immediately, and to pack a bag because we’d be staying overnight. We didn’t know what was wrong yet but if you can imagine we were scared to death. When we got to the Emergency the doctors told us Clarke would need a blood transfusion because her hemoglobin was critically low, and that they were awaiting one more blood test. Once her White Blood Cells came back the doctor sat us down and told us Clarke had Leukemia. Our beautiful 2 year old daughter had leukemia. My husband, Clarke, and my 27 week pregnant self got moved to floor 2, our new home.

The next day we were able to meet with Clarke’s team and they informed us that Clarke had AML. AML is an aggressive blood cancer, therefore they have to treat it as such - aggressively. They told us we would be in the hospital as in-patients for the next 6/7months because her immune system would be so low from the intense chemo that it would be the safest place for her. After Clarke’s first round of Chemo she went into remission. We were thrilled, but unfortunately a test came back that informed us she had a certain gene that would allow the cancer to return after treatment. This put Clarke in the high risk category, and she would need a bone marrow transplant. Clarked completed 2 more rounds of chemo at the Children’s Hospital in Saskatoon. On the day of her last round of chemo in Saskatoon, my husband and I went to floor 3 to deliver our new baby Leo. Once Clarke’s body recovered from her third round of chemo our new family of four were off to Winnipeg for her bone marrow transplant.

We arrived in Winnipeg and Clarke’s body underwent conditioning (an intense type of chemo). On March 1st 2022 Clarke received her magic cells. It would take Clarke’s body around three weeks to recover, therefore the first three weeks are critical because she would have zero immune system. Like zero, zero. Clarke could not pick something up off the floor, everything she touched was wiped until her body developed White Blood cells, her own body could actually even attack itself. Luckily Clarke had minimal side effects from her medicine and transplant. Once Clarke started to make White Blood Cells again they are able to test how many of those are her own and how many are her donors. With cancer you want 100% donor cells so there is zero chance that her AML could come back. Clarke, Leo (1 month old) and myself spent 35 days isolated in one room. My husband was not allowed to spend the night, so would leave after Clarke went to bed and arrive back at the hospital early in the morning. Clarke was and continues to be 100% donor cells and cancer free. Clarke and our family had to be completely isolated for 100 days post BMT. We were lucky enough that it was summer and after 100 days we were able to enjoy visiting with family and friends in a safe space outside.

Clarke is no longer on any medication and her immune system has flourished. She is 1 year post BMT and thriving! Clarke loves princesses, and superheroes. Her favorite being herself (cheetah girl) and her daddy (Bear Paw). She loves doing experiments and making concoctions. Clarke is 4 now and in preschool with other kids. She is the best big sister we could ever ask for and lights up any room she is in. She loves playing make believe, doctor and exploring. We are so grateful for all the amazing care from JPCH, Winnipeg’s Children’s Hospital and our whole community. Clarke received 4 rounds of chemo, spent 151 days in the hospital, had 17 blood transfusions, 1 bone marrow transplant, 21 vaccines ( had to get revaccinated), many xrays, echos, GFR’s, bone density scans, lumbar punctures, sedations, dressing changes and needle pokes. I am forever in awe of her and her strength. Today and everyday we celebrate you Clarke!


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