By Sydney Hamilton
Ryerson retail management professor Lorrisa Dilay anxiously sits in the waiting room of The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids).
To distract herself from thinking about the worst-case scenario that keeps running through her head, she stares at her iPhone and plays countless games of solitaire.
Her three-year-old son, Jacob Middleton, is undergoing a ninehour surgery to remove a twopound malignant tumour, as well as his left kidney, adrenal gland and lymph nodes in his abdomen.
Malignant tumours are extremely dangerous and can become lifethreatening.
Just one week before the surgery, everything seemed fine. Jacob was his normal self. But in a regular checkup, a doctor discovered something out of the ordinary.
Tests later revealed that he had stage four Wilms’ tumour – a rare form of childhood cancer.
“It was a complete shock,” Dilay said. “My body was going through fight or flight, my heart didn’t stop racing for three weeks afterwards.” It’s been almost three years since the week that changed Dilay and her son’s lives. After countless days and nights spent at the hospital, numerous doctor appointments, needles, tests and an unexpected relapse in 2012, Jacob is finally in remission.
But the fight didn’t end there.
When Jacob was diagnosed in 2011, Dilay started a tribute fund called Journey for Jacob to raise money for research specific to Wilms’ tumour.
“All this fundraising kept my mind off all the bad stuff,” Dilay said. “I put all my time and energy into beating cancer.” Thus far, she has raised nearly
$64,000 – just $6,000 short of her ultimate goal.
To raise money, Dilay has made wristbands, set up a lemonade stand, created an online forum and hosted events. This money, more specifically, will help fund research geared towards finding the segment of DNA code that triggers Wilms’ tumour to relapse.
The Retail Students’ Association at Ryerson (RSA) organized the most recent Journey for Jacob fundraising event – a charity gala and silent auction.
“Planning for this event [didn’t] feel like work, since I know that there will be true benefits from it,” said Hilary Taylor, a fourth-year retail management student and president of the RSA.
Jacob recently turned six and celebrated with a reptile-themed birthday party. But his birthday wish was something different than what most children ask for.
Instead of gifts, he suggested his friends bring donations to support research for Wilms’ tumour.
Now, Jacob is healthy, but his journey continues along with the goal to help other children going through the same struggle.
After a long battle, Dilay is thankful for SickKids and the incredible support they gave her and her family.
“SickKids is an amazing place, I feel very strongly about supporting their research,” Dilay said.
“We have a really supportive community.”