In May 2008, Claudie was only a month old when her parents, Christianne and Ronald, brought her to their local hospital because of a cold, fever and swollen belly. The emergency room doctor was immediately concerned and sent Claudie for bloodwork and an ultrasound that showed a large mass in her abdomen. The following day, Claudie was flown to Halifax and transported by ambulance to the IWK for further investigation and care.
A few days after arriving at the IWK, doctors performed surgery to remove the mass that they discovered was attached to Claudie’s left kidney. Thankfully, the kidney was functioning properly and did not need to be removed. However, they still needed to determine from a biopsy if the mass was cancerous or not.
Sadly, three weeks later, Claudie’s parents were told she had congenital mesoblastic nephroma (CMN), a type of kidney cancer, and would need to undergo six cycles of chemotherapy. “When they tell you that your child has cancer, it’s a weird feeling,” shares Christianne. “You can see them but can’t hear what they’re saying. You just hear the word ‘cancer,’ and everything is spinning in slow-motion.”
Fortunately, Claudie’s treatment went well, and she was able to return home after her last treatment in October but continued to be followed closely by the IWK.
In 2014, during a routine check-up, doctors found spots on Claudie’s kidney and liver, which doctors determined was angiomyolipomas (non-cancerous tumours). Thankfully, she did not require treatment.
Unfortunately, five years later, in 2019, Claudie was back at the IWK due to intestinal issues. Doctors at the IWK diagnosed Claudie with ulcerative colitis, an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that causes inflammation and ulcers (sores) in the digestive tract. She started oral medication but, in 2021, switched to receiving intravenous therapy every eight weeks at her local hospital.
Claudie, now 14, is doing better but will continue to be followed by the IWK. “For us, it’s a second home,” says Christianne. “I don’t know what we would do if we wouldn’t have that. I don’t even want to think about it.”