ADARA HASKINS is a bubbly nine-year-old. She’s talkative, outgoing and caring towards others. You would never guess that when she was three years old, she had T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL).
The diagnosis came just a few days after Christmas. She started chemotherapy immediately, spending more than 70 nights at the Children's Hospital in London. She turned four while in isolation in the oncology ward.
"For the first nine months, the chemotherapy treatments were intense even though she was in remission after just 10 days," says Adara's mother, Jennifer, from her home in Corunna, Ontario.
"Because she had an aggressive form of cancer, they continued with the chemotherapy to cut down on her chances of a recurrence."
Acute lymphoblastic leukemia is the most common form of childhood cancer and accounts for nearly 20 per cent of diagnoses in Canada. Research has led to remarkable progress against cancers that affect children. Today, 82 per cent of children diagnosed with cancer will survive.
Jennifer is grateful for research advancements because, for Adara, it meant improved and more targeted treatments.
"Children with T-cell ALL who came before Adara were treated with both radiation and chemotherapy," she explains. "But when she started treatment, research had found that both weren't always needed. So she didn't need to go through radiation too."
"It took a team of amazing doctors, nurses and childcare workers and the support of my family and friends to get me better," adds Adara.