Facing cancer together

September 20, 2017
It's Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. Find out how we support families like the Lebos.
The Lebo family

Shoshanah Lebo has had more than her fair share of experience with cancer. She’s had 10 relatives get diagnosed with the disease – “approximately one every two years” – eight of whom have passed away. And now, Shoshanah is facing the terrifying journey of watching her six-year-old son, Eitan, battle acute lymphoblastic leukemia. It’s something she couldn’t endure without the support of her family.

Thankfully, the Lebo family – including Shoshanah’s husband, Meir, and their younger son, Erez – can stay close to one another at Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC) Toronto while Eitan receives lifesaving treatment.

“When we arrived at the House in May, we immediately understood what a wonderful place this is for families who can’t do much more than be there for their child. We haven’t stopped being grateful since we got here.”

When Eitan was diagnosed with leukemia in May, he was extremely sick. He was rushed by ambulance to Toronto from Markdale, Ont., at risk of a heart attack due to an extremely elevated white blood cell count. He spent five days in the intensive care unit, followed by weeks of intense chemotherapy to kill the cancer in his bones. For an active six year old who loves to be outside, being stuck in a hospital bed was very difficult.

“He doesn’t like the hospital,” says Shoshanah. “He can’t move around, he gets needles every day and he’s always hooked up to machines.”

Eitan’s treatment schedule eventually changed, allowing him to spend some weeks out of the hospital at RMHC Toronto with his family. As soon as he experienced this House full of activities, smiling volunteers and new friends to play with, he was hooked.

“Now when Eitan thinks of going home from the hospital, ‘home’ means RMHC Toronto,” says Shoshanah. “He finds it comforting here. The House is all about summer camp and school and riding bikes around outside. He gets to hang out with his brother and other kids. He looks forward to saying ‘Hi’ to familiar faces at the front desk. He appreciates it here very much.”

With all she’s been through, Shoshanah really appreciates RMHC Toronto as well. She knows the importance of keeping a strong family unit when someone is sick.

“If we didn’t have this place to call home, as if it was our own, it wouldn’t be the same. Living in a friendly atmosphere with other families, with a kitchen to cook in – it has given our family so much. I believe that if we keep going together and we stay strong, we can get through this.”

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