Carisa McCarty, of London, is the thankful mother of two preschool cancer survivors.

Her son Chase was 22 months old when he was diagnosed with hepatoblastoma in 2008. Less than a year later, her seven-month-old son Xander was diagnosed with the same type of rare liver cancer. Genetic testing later determined that both Xander and Chase had an inherited condition called familial adenomatous polyposis (FAP). People who have this condition are at higher risk for hepatoblastoma and colon cancer.

Both boys had surgery to have tumours removed from their livers and underwent chemotherapy treatments. Since the family didn’t have health insurance, they applied for the Canadian Cancer Society’s Family Provided Transportation Assistance Program. The program helps ease financial pressures for families of childhood cancer patients.

The financial pressures were staggering but the Family Provided Transportation Assistance Program was a godsend,” says Carisa. “It made the cost of gas one less thing we had to worry about.”

Today, Chase and Xander are healthy, happy and active boys but both are hearing impaired as a result of the high doses of chemotherapy drugs they received. To fight back against a disease that has attacked their family, the McCarty’s take part in the Canadian Cancer Society Relay For Life. Carisa first joined a team when Xander was undergoing treatment in 2009. Today, the entire family participates and raises funds through their ‘Wishes Do Come True’ team.

Participating in Relay For Life is part of our family tradition. We do it every year and the boys think that walking in the Survivor’s Victory Lap is the coolest thing in the world,” says Carisa.  “We Relay because we believe research will find a cure. Research is costly but we believe that every donation makes a life of difference.”

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