Those short visits at home were life to Mackenzie and her family.
For five months Mackenzie braved chemotherapy, nausea, and exhaustion. Like any other 10 year old girl, she should have been playing outside in the sunshine with friends, feeling the summer breeze on her face, and cooling off in the pool in the heat of the day. But her story took a different turn.
In February 2011, Mackie was experiencing severe muscle pain and loss of appetite, so she was brought to the Emergency Department at The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids). It was initially thought to be a virus, so she was sent home with medication. After a few days with no change in her condition, Mackie returned to SickKids for further testing. A blood test and bone marrow aspiration confirmed that she was suffering from Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML).
Mackenzie’s treatment protocol was a six-month admission at SickKids to undergo aggressive chemotherapy. If she was well enough in between each of the five rounds of treatment, she was able to visit home for a couple days at a time. Those short visits at home were life to Mackenzie and her family.
Starting in September 2011, Mackenzie started back at school with her friends in grade 6 French immersion. She was learning piano, singing in the neighbourhood choir and swimming competitively. Despite having pristine blood work for months after treatment, her SickKids team found cancer cells in her spinal fluid in March 2012. She was readmitted and her fight continued for six more months with more chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant.
On October 16, 2012, Mackenzie passed away peacefully in the arms of her parents and younger brother, Jamie. They continue to be advocates for childhood cancer in hopes there will one day be a cure for the disease.