On October 1st, 2014, Jason and Chantal Delarge of Airdrie, AB, received the horrifying news that no parent wants to hear, news that will change their family’s world forever. Their beautiful, energetic, vibrant, 23 month old daughter, Dallis, has Retinoblastoma.
Retinoblastoma is a rare and aggressive form of childhood cancer, and consists of malignant tumors in the retina of the eye. Upon further examination, it was discovered that Dallis has bilateral Retinoblastoma, meaning she has it in both eyes.
The family was immediately flown to the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, Ontario, to begin treatment as soon possible. Based at Sick Kids are the elite teams of Paediatric Ophthalmologists and Haematology Oncologists that are world-renown for their research and treatment of Retinoblastoma children. This is where the family remains today, praying for a positive outcome for their child, as well as an eventual return to their home and life in Airdrie, as Chantal and Jason are expecting their 2nd child in November.
However, with each passing day, the family is flooded with more and more information on Dallis’s condition that keeps their landscape in a state of constant change and uncertainty. Retinoblastoma is a genetic condition, and genetic testing began on Dallis immediately upon their arrival in Toronto to determine the origin of the gene. Because of the genetic nature of this cancer, a Retinoblastoma tumor begins to form immediately upon conception of the child, and then continues to develop while in utero. Therefore, the possibility that the Delarge’s newborn child may also be stricken with this affliction is very present.
The oncololgists and geneticists at Sick Kids in Toronto have been able to confirm through prior research that Retinoblastoma is caused by a genetic mutation of the RB1 gene. Unfortunately, once this mutation is found in the RB1 gene, this same mutation will also be present in every other cell in Dallis’ body. This means that Dallis will be profoundly predisposed to developing other cancers, at any time, over the course of her life. This also means that Dallis will have to undergo full cancer screening at least twice a year, every year, for the rest of her life. Because the medical professionals that specialize in Retinoblastoma are based in Toronto, the Alberta Children’s Hospital is not equipped to treat this rare form of cancer, and Dallis must have all of her future treatments, tests, procedures, hospitalizations, etc., at the Sick Children’s Hospital in Toronto. This will require Dallis and her parents to return to Toronto Sick Kids Hospital for 3-4 days out of every month well in to the foreseeable future.
At this time, Dallis is undergoing chemotherapy treatments at Sick Children’s Hospital until mid-December at least. After this, the procedures begin all over again, possibly including the enucleation (removal of) Dallis’ left eye. The Delarges are now forced to remain displaced in Toronto until further notice, including for the delivery of their 2nd child, while they are being housed at the Ronald McDonald House in Toronto.
Little Dallis is also the cherished grandchild of Richard and Tracie Verbruggen of Carstairs, AB. Dallis has spent a lot of time with her beloved Gram and Opa at their home in Carstairs, and the situation of her health and distance has been both devastating and heartbreaking to everyone in the Delarge and Verbruggen families.
A fundraising gala is currently being organized for Dallis in Carstairs, to take place in February 2015, so that the communities of Airdrie, Carstairs, Crossfield and surrounding areas may come together to help the Delarge family through this tragic situation, and hopefully soon see their wish of returning to their home and life in Airdrie - but most especially - for little Dallis to have the opportunity to truly see and live out every daydream she will have.
Fittingly, we have named this fundraiser “Daydreams for Dallis”.
Event: Daydreams for Dallis
Date: Saturday, February 7, 2015
Time: 8 PM
Place: Carstairs Community Hall
The fundraiser will feature country headliners DOMINO, as well as live and silent auctions.