PETERBOROUGH-After more than three years of chemotherapy treatments Alex Stewart and his mother Karen Basciano thought he had beat cancer.
In March 2016 Alex was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. He started chemotherapy almost immediately. His last chemotherapy treatment and lumbar puncture took place in July 2019. It was a tough three years for both of them.
After the initial diagnosis, they spent 42 days at Sick Kids Hospital and then were back and forth between lengthy stays at Sick Kids and Ronald McDonald House. During Treatment Alex lost his hair, spent many days nauseous and vomiting, dehydrated, with low blood sugar and fainting spells. Basciano is a single mom and was off work for 8 months and then could only work three days a week due to follow-up appointments at the hospital.
According to the Mayo Clinic, Acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL) is a type of cancer of the blood and bone marrow — the spongy tissue inside bones where blood cells are made.
The word “acute” in acute lymphocytic leukemia comes from the fact that the disease progresses rapidly and creates immature blood cells, rather than mature ones. The word “lymphocytic” in acute lymphocytic leukemia refers to the white blood cells called lymphocytes, which ALL affects.
Alex was in remission until December 2022 when he started feeling unwell.
“He lost 20 pounds in ten days because he wasn’t eating. He would be sick for a couple of days and then better for a couple of days.” Basciano told Kawartha 411 news. “He was nauseous, weak and unable to eat.”
A trip to the emergency department confirmed the worst.
“Once again we were devastated. It was right before Christmas on December 19th, he had a lumbar puncture and bone marrow sample taken and that’s how they diagnosed it for a second time.”
Because Alex is now 18 he is considered an adult and cannot be treated at Sick Kids so he was sent to Princess Margaret Cancer Centre where they have been for 30 days now.
“We both just want to come home, this is not a family-friendly place,” Basciano explains. “There’s nowhere for parents to sleep, I sleep in a chair in his room and there is nowhere to shower.”
The Princess Margaret Lodge, where families would usually be able to stay has been closed due to the pandemic and is now undergoing renovations.
“The Lodge closed in 2020 when the pandemic hit. It needed renovations including upgrades to the plumbing, draining and HVAC system. Those renovations are currently underway. The Lodge is set to re-open in spring, 2024. Due to the closure of the Lodge, Ontario Health is offering accommodation support for eligible patients who live outside the Greater Toronto Area and travel support for eligible patients who live more than 100 km from the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre,” a spokesperson for the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre told Kawartha 411 News.
Basciano says Alex’s treatment is going reasonably well but there have been complications.
Alex’s brother set up a Go Fund Me Campaign to help with bills and expenses. Here is the link if you are able to help:https://www.gofundme.com/f/fundraiser-for-alex-stewart?utm_source=messenger&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=p_cf+share-flow-1