Windsor toddler celebrates one year cancer-free
September marks Childhood Cancer Awareness Month and one local family has a big reason to celebrate this time of year.
Three-year-old Savannah Hill is celebrating one year of being cancer-free.
“Every day I feel like I appreciate life more because of how she has proven to me that life can continue on,” says mother Jessica Hill.
Savannah was diagnosed with a rare form of Leukaemia at 19 months of age.
“My heart sinks just thinking about it,” recalls Jessica. “When they told us because of that type of leukaemia, she might not have that long.”
Doctors told the family the best prognosis for her daughter would be a stem cell transplant. However, finding a match for Savannah was exponentially difficult due to her mixed race ethnic background.
“You’re much more likely to match with somebody of the same ethnic or ancestral background as you,” says Dr. Heidi Elmoazzen, stem cells director at Canadian Blood Services. “Because we are such a unique ethnically diverse country in Canada, that makes it much more challenging.”
Dr. Elomoazzen says out of the roughly 440,000 donors on Canada’s stem cell registry, only one third are those of a diverse background. That number drops to just four per cent for mixed race individuals.
Throughout her treatments, the Hill family hosted numerous stem cell drives, swabbing hundreds of individuals in hopes of finding a match.
Savannah never found a perfect match, but to everyone’s surprise, her chemotherapy treatments did the trick and got rid of all her cancer cells.
“I just admire her and I’m thankful for God that she’s continuing to do well,” says Jessica.
While the Hill family celebrates Savannah’s “cancerversary,” they are urging the public to join the stem cell registry to give other children who aren’t as fortunate a chance to survive.
“I encourage anybody to think about their loved ones, what if they were in this situation,” says Jessica.
Healthy individuals 17-35 years of age are eligible for stem cell donation. To register online visit the Canadian Blood Services Website.
Registrants will be asked to fill out a health screening questionnaire, a swabbing kit will then be mailed to you with all postage costs covered.