Young Saskatchewan cancer patients get help from CIBC donation

Weston Delorme, 3, and his mom Shelby at the announcement that CIBC was donating $250,000 to create a family comfort fund to help young cancer patients.
Weston Delorme, 3, and his mom Shelby at the announcement that CIBC was donating $250,000 to create a family comfort fund to help young cancer patients. Gabriela Panza-Beltrandi/Global News

The past week has been hard on Weston Delorme.

The three–year–old was diagnosed with leukemia in August 2019. Since then he’s been going to and from treatment at the Jim Pattison Children’s Hospital in Saskatoon.

His most recent stay, starting Feb. 5, is to treat an infected port, a device under the skin that helps deliver chemotherapy to fight his cancer.

He’s usually energetic, said his mom Shelby, but this time treatment has taken a lot out of him.

“Now it’s like he can’t really walk, he aches a lot, you can see under his eyes that he doesn’t get much sleep, he tosses and turns, his IV bugs him a lot where it gets itchy sometimes,” she said.

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Shelby is a single mother of three with another baby on the way. Between finding child care, groceries, and taking care of Weston, she says “it’s a struggle.”

“I’m fundraising right now,” she said about how she’s getting by.

“My reserve [Cowessess First Nation] helped me with $250 last week for emergency funds, but with the cafeteria food and how much it is, it doesn’t help all that much.”

On Thursday, CIBC donated $250,000 to the Jim Pattison Children’s Hospital Foundation to create the CIBC pediatric oncology family comfort fund, a fund to help families of young cancer patients like Weston cover non-medical expenses.

That includes equipment such as thermometers, as well as groceries, parking costs, and gas.

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Roona Sinha, a pediatric hematologist oncologist, said many of these families aren’t able to work because of how much time they’re spending in and out of hospital, and the huge strain it is taking on their wallets.

“I’ve had patients before… who’ve told me that they save up to come for the cancer treatments because they save up for the gas,” she said.

“I can’t imagine how hard it must be to say ‘Hey, I don’t even have enough gas to get to my chemo appointment’ and so I think that this [fund] is so meaningful for that reason.”

Sinha said how much money each family will get varies case by case, but the fund will help every pediatric oncology patient in the province.

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The Delorme family were the first to receive money from this fund. Shelby isn’t sure what she will spend it on yet, but she said it will make a huge difference to her and her kids.

“I don’t want to start crying but I am going to start crying soon,” she said. “I appreciate it a lot because I’m a single mom, it helps.”

The money CIBC donated will also go toward port shirts for the hospital, which makes it easier for patients like Weston to access their ports, something the hospital said makes treatment sessions more comfortable.

The money will also go toward oncology-specific medical play equipment for patients.