Anthony Serracino, 17, is feeling more like himself these days. The Grade 12 student is back in school and playing sports at the Lindsay Collegiate and Vocational Institute.
Serracino has acute lymphoblastic leukemia, a form of cancer in which a person’s bone marrow produces too many immature lymphocytes (a type of white blood cell).
The Lindsay teen has been receiving treatment at Peterborough Regional Health Centre and the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto since his diagnosis in August 2017.
“I was moving boxes (at work). They weren’t heavy, but I can only do so much because I would get so tired. One day, I had bruises all over my legs and had petechiae, which is little red spots on my body,” recalled Serracino.
Serracino believed he had a cold. After feeling generally unwell and tired, he went to the hospital and was diagnosed with cancer.
“I was very angry. I didn’t have a lot of time to think about it. I was angry at the world,” he said. “I wondered ‘Why me?’ I think I can speak for every kid when I say, ‘Why me?'”
However Serracino continues his treatment and the outlook is positive.
“I’m going to go on with this maintenance treatment for a little under a year and after that I should be cleared and good to go,” he added.
On Monday, the PRHC and the Pediatric Oncology Group of Ontario (POGO) officially opened a satellite childhood cancer care clinic at the Peterborough hospital.
The POGO satellite clinic operates under provincial guidelines and in collaboration with SickKids, which provides the cancer diagnosis as well as oversight for a child’s care. The team in Peterborough, which is comprised of doctors, nurses, child life specialists and social workers, administers pediatric cancer services, including treatment such as chemotherapy.
“The PRHC satellite is our eighth satellite. Each year, we’re able to shift thousands of visits out from the tertiary centres, the main cancer treatment centres, and bring those visits closer to home,” said Dr. Paul Gibson, associate director of clinical affairs at POGO.
“Having a POGO clinic close to us makes life as a parent a whole lot easier,” said Theresa Serracino-Inglott, Anthony’s mother. “Feeling financially strapped is a common thread among families of children with cancer, and these satellite clinics give some relief to that.”
“The expenses of travelling for cancer care, the stress of leaving other children at home and loss of income due to travel are just some of the challenges families can face,” said PRHC president and CEO Dr. Peter McLaughlin. “PRHC is pleased to partner with POGO and SickKids to ease this burden through the shared cared provided in our POGO Satellite Clinic.”