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Young leukemia patient pays it forward in a big way

What started as a simple pumpkin and a “pay it forward” card resulted in a massive donation from Canora to the Ronald McDonald House in Saskatoon on November 30.

            What started as a simple pumpkin and a “pay it forward” card resulted in a massive donation from Canora to the Ronald McDonald House in Saskatoon on November 30.

            Four-year-old Sophia Hvidston, who is undergoing chemotherapy for leukemia, enrolled for Pre-K classes this fall and like all the other Pre-K students, she received a pumpkin from the Clint and Rachel Kraynick family. With each pumpkin was a pay-it-forward card, on behalf of the late Chase Kraynick.

            Sophia immediately began talking about paying it forward and doing something nice for the Ronald McDonald House in Saskatoon. It is where her family stays when she visits a hospital in Saskatoon.

            The word quickly got to Chris Danyluk, the Pre-K teacher, and she and a number of fellow students’ parents began soliciting donations. Most of the donations came from the local community, but a number was also mailed in. It was a response to Danyluk who put the “pay-it-forward” on Facebook.

            There were toys, bedding, gift cards, food and ornaments, said Shanna Hvidston, Sophia’s mother. There were so many children’s toys that it was necessary to take a truck to get the whole load to Saskatoon in one trip.

            Ever since this aspect of Sophia’s challenges began, Shanna said her family was overwhelmed by the response from Canora. “Nobody really knows us here, but everyone wants to chip in to help pay it forward.”

            Her husband Barry is the new administrator for the RM of Keys. The family recently moved to Canora from Kamsack.

            “I have so much respect for Chris Danyluk, Sophia’s Pre-K teacher. I couldn’t ask for a better person, or one with a bigger heart, to spend time with Sophia.”

            Shanna said it was Danyluk’s drive and her work putting up the appeal on Facebook that got so many people involved.

            After exhibiting symptoms such as pain, easily bruising and a very white complexion, Sophia turned to the medical world which began to look for leukemia and she received her diagnosis on Easter Monday.

            It’s been a whirlwind of activity since those first blood tests in Kamsack, Shanna said. At first, Sophia was admitted to the Royal University Hospital pediatrics unit. Immediately she went through five blood transfusions and four rounds of platelet transfusions. A small surgery was done to insert a port for easy access to her blood system. Then the chemo treatments began.

            At first, the treatments were weekly and while the chemo was doing it job, it was also knocking the fight out of her immune system, said Shanna. In September, she was admitted to hospital for eight days with neutropenic fever – a condition cause by a challenged immune system.

            However, she pulled through and continued her weekly treatments. Just recently, she was told to go on an oral dose daily and she needed to make the trip to Saskatoon only once a month.

            For Shanna, it is still a matter of continuously watching over Sophia, but she is encouraged that the doctors are happy with Sophia’s blood numbers. Shanna is hanging on the hope that the worst is really behind them now. Happy with Sophia’s response, the doctors have been saying that the chemo therapy must continue for at least 18 more months. The date June 12, 2017 is a very special future date, because if everything goes right that will be the last time she will have to take chemo therapy.