Lucie Bertoli, 8, is the oldest of four children in her family.
According to her mom, Claire, she is super funny, has a great sense of humour, is really smart and loves to read. She’s fast, and loves running, knows more about Harry Potter and Star Wars than her parents and is a really good big sister.
“She’s really kind and takes good care of me and her siblings,” says Claire. “She just knows how to take care of people and knows what to say.”
In the past month, however, it’s been Lucie who has needed taking care of.
After falling ill in December, and several trips to the hospital in Williams Lake, a blood test resulted in a trip to the BC Children’s Hospital.
On Jan. 11 it was confirmed. Lucie was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia.
Her treatments started Jan. 12.
Lucie is on an intense treatment plan, including four different chemotherapy drugs, says her mom, as well as various other medications to treat the side effects of those drugs. She’ll be treated in courses of chemo during different periods over the next two and a half years, says Claire.
|Lucie Bertoli, shortly after arriving at the BC Children’s Hospital. Lucie was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia on Jan. 11 and friends of the family are running a crowdfunder to help with the costs of her treatment.|
“She’s got a pretty crazy road ahead of her. It’s hard to fathom right now. We’re just trying to get to 1 p.m., to our next appointment. We’re not thinking that far ahead right now. We can’t.”
It hasn’t been easy, says Claire.
“She has definitely had some bad days and is feeling really sick. There is a lot of nausea and headaches that have been caused by her drugs and she is already in a lot of pain from her leukemia,” she says.
“She definitely has bad moments and is struggling with that, but she has also had moments where she is herself and is laughing and making us laugh and she’s had some good times too.”
Lucie is not the first child in the family who has had to make the trip to the BC Children’s Hospital. Her younger sister Harper had a seizure at seven days old that left her struggling with brain damage. Now two and a half, Harper sees a physiotherapist twice a week in Williams Lake and is “the happiest child one could meet.”
Through that, according to her family, Lucie stayed strong and took good care of her younger siblings, but her Claire says it’s never easy to watch your children hurt.
“No one ever wants to see your kid sick like this. It’s so hard. You wish that you could do it instead of them or take their pain and their discomfort away.”
Claire and her husband Ryan are both in Vancouver with Lucie and their youngest child, Wren, who is just four months old.
Their middle two children, Harper and Nolan, 4, are still in Williams Lake with Claire’s mother. She hopes the family can be reunited in Ronald McDonald house soon.
The family will be travelling back and forth between Vancouver and Williams Lake as Lucie gets treatment.
For now, the family says they are so grateful for all the support they’ve received. A friend set up a crowdfunder at gofundme.com/loveforlucie that has raised as much as $7,940 to help with the costs of living in and travelling to Vancouver. Other donations that have come in to the family from other sources have raised the total to more than $13,245.
“It’s overwhelming. Every time our phone buzzes with a text or someone updates us, we get an e-transfer, we both are really emotional. It’s insane. We can’t thank people enough,” says Claire.
“The love and support from them is helping us get through each day.”
She says the support is encouraging Lucie.
“Seeing everyone’s support and just having everyone get in touch with us to express how much they care about us has just been super powerful,” she says.
“If there is anything good that has come out of this, it is just how much our community has done to show their love and support.”
“We really want to express how grateful we are to everyone for their support and how overwhelmed we are by that. It’s been huge for us to stay sane. Our friends are amazing and our community is just incredible. The people we don’t even know who are supporting us — we don’t even have words.
“I don’t know what to say. We just come from an amazing town.”
For now, the family is taking it one small victory at a time.
“We are just taking each day as it comes and celebrating making it through that day,” says Claire.
Lucie will celebrating her birthday at BC Children’s, turning nine on Wednesday.
“We’re excited about that, we are excited for our other people to come down and join us and have our family together,” says Claire.