Given just months to live in Nov. 2016, Rheanna Trepanier is still fighting terminal brain cancer more than a year later.
At 10 years old, Rheanna was at school on Halloween when she fell ill and was rushed to the Stollery Children’s Hospital.
After multiple surgeries and tests, she was diagnosed with four brain tumours — and the prognosis was not good. But Rheanna wasn’t going down without a fight.
After six weeks of radiation and two rounds of chemotherapy, Rheanna’s hair fell out. Now, it’s growing back, and her tumours have stopped growing.
“She still has glioblastoma, it’s just that the tumours aren’t active at this time,” said Rheanna’s mom, Marissa Trepanier.
Rheanna celebrated another Christmas, as well as her 11th birthday.
“We stayed home and I invited a couple of my friends over. We played hide-and-go-seek,” Rheanna said.
In recent months, Rheanna has been feeling much better.
“She’s no longer sick, she started to get her appetite back and was asking for food. She has no seizure activities, we haven’t had to give her any morphine.”
Her mother says a doctor’s prescription for medical marijuana made all the difference.
“We haven’t spent much time in the hospital. I attribute that to starting the cannabis oil. We’ve seen a 100 per cent increase in her quality of life since starting that.”
Rheanna says the oil “saved my life,” but that “it tastes terrible.”
With her improved health, she’s been going back to school for a few hours each day, trying to be a normal kid. Her favourite subject is art.
She loves talking to her friends and playing soccer. All the while, defying the doctors’ diagnosis.
“They won’t call it a miracle, they refuse to use that word, but I use that word because she’s still here, still going strong. She wakes up positive and hopeful about the day,” Marissa said.
But there are still challenges, like memory loss, for example.
“We have balance and mobility issues. She gets bouts of confusion, but at the same time we’ll take those things and move with it because we still have her here,” Marissa explained.
When word of Rheanna’s illness first appeared on Global News, hundreds of generous viewers offered to help Rheanna check items off her bucket list.
“I honestly don’t know how we could’ve gone through this journey and be where we’re at today without all of that support, love and prayers. It really really helped us and we’re forever grateful.”
All that remains now is to meet Ellen Degeneres.
“Because she’s like me, blonde hair, blue eyes, funny. She’s like my idol,” Rheanna said.
As a mom, Marissa says the experience has changed her outlook on life.
“Just the small blessings in life, you have to be thankful for,” she said.
“I feel like our prayers have been answered. I still have my girl here with us. I couldn’t ask for anything more.”