Megan Senn, like most girls going into grade 12, is gearing up for the school year in the usual way.
“She’s got a new backpack and she is going on Pinterest picking out a grad dress. She’s very much looking forward to going back to school,” says her mother, Karen Quinton.
Megan has Down syndrome and last September she was diagnosed with leukemia. For the past year they have spent months in Vancouver at Children’s Hospital, and a lot of hours on the highway, going back and forth.
“We just came home on June 27. We finished our treatment and we are waiting for her chemo to start. She will be having treatments until January 2018. Most leukemia treatments are two and a half to three years, that’s normal,” says Quinton.
Megan gets her chemo treatments in a few ways: spinal injection, intravenous, and orally.
“She gets some kind of chemo almost every day. Leukemia likes to hide around the brain and spinal column so they always take a little spinal fluid. She’s never had any cancer in her spinal fluid, we’ve been lucky.”
They had a scare last week because her hemoglobin was very low.
“We were very concerned. They thought she had had a relapse but she didn’t. It was fine.”
They still have to go to Vancouver every 29 days for treatments but Quinton says they’re fortunate because they can do many of the treatments here.
“We were really lucky to have the oncology department here agree to do some treatments here in Salmon Arm. We don’t have to go to Vernon or Kelowna. It’s been a huge blessing for us. That means less time off work for me and less time off school for Megan. The nurse in the oncology department worked for 25 years at Children’s and knows all of Megan’s oncology team. That’s really a good thing, it doesn’t happen to just anyone.”
Last September a trust fund was set up at the Credit Union for Megan. Quinton says the financial support they have received from the community has been “a really big blessing.” She says the cost of food while they’re in Vancouver, the travel back and forth and the cost of parking add up.
“We’re so lucky to have community support. Thank you Salmon Arm and Sicamous. They’ve rallied behind me and Megan. It’s nice to focus just on Megan and not worry what was going on (financially).”
In October Quinton plans on taking part in the CIBC breast cancer run but she’s not going to wear the traditional pink shirt.
“Orange is the new pink. Orange is the colour of leukemia awareness. I’m going to wear orange.”
Throughout the whole process Megan has been an inspiration, she says.
“She is the model of positive attitude. She always has a smile on her face. She has never complained about her hair falling out, mouth sores, or being tired. The staff loved her because she gave them hugs and said, ‘thank you.’ People commented on her friendly and outgoing nature. She’s a sweet girl.”
Donations can be made at any branch of Salmon Arm Savings and Credit Union, by asking for the ‘In trust for Megan Senn, account 1626480.’