In September 2018, at the launch of the new POGO Pediatric Oncology Satellite Clinic at Peterborough Regional Health Centre (PRHC), Theresa Serracino-Inglott, husband Mario and son Anthony spoke on behalf of the parents and young patients who will be receiving care.
Last year in late August, Anthony was gearing up to start his Grade 11 year when he was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). Anthony spent most of his first six months at SickKids hospital because of complications and an extremely tough protocol for his high-risk diagnosis. Throughout the past year – and more so in the last six months – the Pediatric Outpatient or POP Clinic at PRHC has been our second home.
In April, Anthony was here for supportive care close to 20 days, and every day he was greeted with a smile and the exceptional care we have come to know from Shay Cannon and the POP Clinic Team. This was such a relief because as parents of children with a cancer diagnosis, we are continually being bombarded with difficult and gut-wrenching fears – and leaving the safety of SickKids Hospital is one of them.
Having to take your child to a new place for their care and allowing unfamiliar medical staff to provide treatment leaves us parents feeling vulnerable and scared – but once we walked through the doors of the POP Clinic and met Shay and the POP Clinic team, our fears subsided. Anthony immediately made a connection with the staff that has only strengthened over the months. Being closer to home to attend to such things as his fevers and blood work has meant a lot to Anthony. When he was admitted with a fever and had to stay at PRHC for more than a couple of days, it meant that his friends could easily come and keep him company to pass the time.
Throughout this time, the POP Clinic team was already beginning the transition to become an official POGO Satellite Clinic, which included staff training in all of the specialized areas of care we knew Anthony would need.
Now that this is an official POGO Satellite site, I can’t help but think of “future POGO families” in our area. Perhaps today, the news of the new clinic may not even register, but when they are burdened with their child’s diagnosis, they will have these things to ease their journey:
- Closer access to chemo treatments
- A “fever card” that is our direct route to the in-patient unit, allowing us to bypass emergency
- Coordinated care between PRHC and SickKids that meets the high standard of care that POGO Satellite Clinics deliver
- A trusting relationship with qualified staff that go above and beyond for patients in their care
- Support from other POGO families that become lifelong friends because of this journey they’ve shared together
Having a POGO Clinic close to us makes life as a parent a whole lot easier. Feeling financially strapped is a common thread among families of children with cancer and satellite clinics give some relief to that. The shorter distance helps us save money on gas for the car, the need to eat out, motel costs, and childcare needed for siblings.
Anthony has already benefitted from shorter clinic visits. This is important because as a teen with cancer, many occasions have been missed because of treatment. Having the accessibility of the POGO Clinic gets him back to his friends who play a very important part in his recovery.
Parents of children with cancer certainly would have never chosen this path for our children, but because this is where we find ourselves, I want to say how grateful we are to POGO and to Peterborough Regional Health Centre for making it possible for families like ours to have an official POGO Satellite Clinic right in our community. We can’t thank you enough for easing the burden by keeping many aspects of our child’s cancer treatment closer to home. Thank you.