Vinesha’s family didn’t think she would make it. She was only 19 years old, and yet she was facing her second battle with cancer. She had beaten it once, only to have it return in her lungs. And then the doctors told her she had six months to live. But that was more than a decade ago. She found hope and healing at The Princess Margaret, and today she’s cancer-free.
Vinesha’s family came to Canada as refugees from Sri Lanka. Her parents worked hard to ensure she and her brother could have a good life here in Canada, and they inspired her to work hard at school. Vinesha remembers that last summer before she was diagnosed with cancer as full of playing basketball, eating freezies, and hanging out with her friends. But by the time fall came, she began feeling very tired and started to notice a persistent pain in her leg.
The pain turned out to be osteogenic sarcoma – the same cancer that had taken Terry Fox’s leg. That’s a lot for anyone to take in, especially a teenager. But she made it through a grueling year of treatment and emerged cancer-free. Vinesha was able to graduate high school and start her university classes. It was during one of those classes that she started coughing and couldn’t stop. Soon she was coughing up blood and having seizures.
It was a tough thing to hear as a teenager, but it was even tougher to hear it for a second time. This time, Vinesha’s diagnosis brought her to The Princess Margaret and to her doctors, who fought hard for her and gave her hope.
She couldn’t have radiation. And chemotherapy wasn’t possible because she had so much during her first cancer treatment. Surgery was too risky. But Vinesha’s doctors didn’t give up. She qualified for a clinical trial. Unfortunately, even if things went well, she’d have six months to live.
But that was more than ten years ago.
Vinesha’s tumour shrunk to the point that it could be removed. All along, her doctors had been working closely with colleagues to assess her readiness for surgery. Now it was possible. Her left lung, three ribs and a large part of the chest wall were removed, and there were no traces left of cancer.
Vinesha remembers seeing the Doves of Hope when she was a patient at The Princess Margaret. For her, they became a powerful statement of hope when she needed comfort. With your gift, you can become part of this wonderful community and be a symbol of hope when patients and families face their most challenging days.
It’s gifts like yours that make it possible to have world-class research and care here in Canada. As one of the top 5 cancer centres in the world, The Princess Margaret attracts the most highly skilled doctors – the kind that doesn’t give up on patients like Vinesha.
Donate and dedicate your Dove today and Let Hope Fly