Whether it was her training as a nurse or her maternal instincts, Laura Weimer knew something was wrong when she felt what she thought was a hole in her nine-month-old daughter Luna’s head.
That hole turned out to be a large cancerous tumour, roughly 10 centimetres wide. Ninety-five per cent of it would be removed in an agonizing eight-hour surgery in October 2016. The surgery went well, without any complications, and after Luna recovered, she began inpatient chemotherapy at Regina General Hospital (RGH).
“All of our support systems are here – my family, my husband’s family – and you need a lot of support when you’re going through something like this,” says Laura. “To be at home and able to have family visit at the hospital, that kept us sane and helped us come through this stronger and not completely falling apart.”
From December 2016 to April 2018, Luna would stay at RGH every two weeks, sometimes one night but sometimes as many as five or six nights. The family got to know the pediatric inpatient unit well during Luna’s battle with cancer.
“The nurses are so compassionate and so skilled,” Laura explains. “Everyone cared about Luna so much and I felt it was therapeutic for me to talk to those nurses. They became counsellors for me at the same time they were taking care of my daughter.”
Laura recalls how staff went above and beyond to make Luna’s stay as comfortable as possible. When Luna grew sensitive to sound and struggled to sleep, the team found ways to check on Luna without disturbing her.
Everyone was so attentive to what she needed and what I needed,” Laura says. “I can’t imagine being somewhere else where the nurses weren’t like that.
The pediatric team continued to exceed the family’s expectations, even throwing Luna a celebration to mark her last chemotherapy treatment.
The remaining five per cent of Luna’s tumour was removed in spring 2018, allowing her to be a regular kid enjoying summer.
“It was really emotional to see her running around, touching dirt and going in the lake – she couldn’t do any of that before,” Laura remembers. “We were dealing with a regular two-year-old’s problems, like tantrums and screaming. It was really awesome.”
Luna will receive magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) at RGH every three months for a few years to monitor her progress.
We feel very lucky and blessed that we still have her right now,” Laura said. “Hopefully this is the end of cancer for Luna’s life.
“The Weimer family’s experience in Regina’s health-care system shows the impact and importance of good health care right here at home,” says Dino Sophocleous, president and CEO, Hospitals of Regina Foundation. “Our children deserve the best care we can provide them and the community’s support is critical in helping us accomplish that.”