Light at the end of the tunnel

July 27, 2017
After a tough couple of years, Kathryn's health is better and she's heading home.
Claire and Kathryn Cubacub

Kathryn Cubacub has had a difficult couple of years, enduring chemotherapy, radiation and major surgeries to treat an aggressive brain tumour. But today, after staying at Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC) Toronto throughout six weeks of radiation therapy, the 14-year-old has some positive news: she’s going home.

As Kathryn and her mom, Claire, look forward to spending the rest of their summer at home, they leave RMHC Toronto with continued gratitude for the support they’ve received since they first stayed at the House in March 2016. At that time, Kathryn had her second brain surgery and first round of chemotherapy. She was in extremely poor health, almost losing the vision in her left eye.

“Staying at the House was amazing for Kathryn because she felt so comfortable here,” says Claire. “Being sick had made her feel different from other kids, but here she became friends with others in similar situations.”

Kathryn attended the RMHC Toronto School, continuing her Grade 7 studies while away from home. She had always struggled with math, but the one-on-one attention helped her improve her skills dramatically in just one month’s time.

“When I went back to my regular school, I was actually a little bit ahead of my classmates,” Kathryn recalls proudly.

In April 2017, Kathryn returned to The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) to undergo a craniotomy, her most intense brain surgery yet.

“This was my biggest fear,” says Claire, “but her doctor said that if she didn’t have this operation, she would likely go blind.”

Under a great deal of stress, Claire opted not to stay at the House this time so she could spend every possible minute at Kathryn’s bedside during her 16-day recovery in the Intensive Care Unit. Instead, Claire found comfort at the RMHC Toronto Family Room at SickKids.

“Every time I walked into the Family Room in the middle of the night, I had a place to stay,” she says. “I would walk in crying and volunteers would talk to me and reassure me that things would get better. And they did. I never lost hope.”


The craniotomy was a success. Kathryn’s doctors believe they removed the full tumour, and she and her mom moved back to the House in June so she could complete her final round of radiation. Kathryn will be examined in late August to reassess her condition, but for now, Claire is happy to be going home and can “see a light at the end of the tunnel.”

“RMHC Toronto has been so kind to us. As a single parent, I cannot imagine driving Kathryn back and forth for daily radiation. The House and Family Room will always have special places in our hearts and I can never thank RMHC Toronto enough for all it does to bring families closer together.”

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