AMHERST, N.S. – Hazel Rhindress is home for the holidays with her thankful parents, but with more trips to the Sick Kids Hospital in Toronto in her near future.
The 18-month old daughter of Chris Rhindress and Holly Timmons has been undergoing chemotherapy treatments in Toronto for retinoblastoma, a rare form of cancer that develops in the eye and is almost exclusive to young children.
She has received four more treatments since returning to Toronto in August, eight in total since she was only four months old.
“Right now they have found no active tumours, and that’s why we got to come home,” said Timmons. “We have to back on January 3rd and every other month, every three weeks pretty much, so they can monitor her.”
Due to the effects of the treatments, she has lost fingernails, toenails, and suffered rashes, but she has stayed in good spirits throughout it all.
She has never had the chance to grow any hair, but is starting to now. Her vision remains strong, and her smile can still be found, but she has developed a wariness that her parents did not notice before.
“We’ve noticed she’s developed her own little shy personality while up there,” said Rhindress. “She’s afraid of doctors, so she’s really attached to me and Holly.”
Doctors have identified Hazel’s retinoblastoma as a very aggressive and resilient type, and her parents are hoping it stays non-active.
For now, they are happy to be home, away from the bustle of Toronto and Hazel is enjoying getting reunited with her toys.
“It’s pretty relaxing,” he said. “We were up there for so long.”
The family was fortunate to receive support from the Moncton Lions Sick Kids Club, which covered the cost of their lodgings at Ronald McDonald House in Toronto, but they have had plenty more expenses to endure on their own, such as flights, not to mention keeping their home in Amherst.
“It’s been hectic because we’ve still been paying bills down here, and rent down here, but we have to survive up there, so it’s almost like living two different lives,” said Timmons. “We’ve been paying rent and all our bills just to keep it running, so anytime they said we could go home, we would be ready to go home.”
A GoFundMe page is still active here to help them with those expenses.