Four year old Ariel Seydel has been going through some tough times as she is undergoing chemo treatment of a tumor in her brain at Children’s Hospital this past month.
However, Saturday, Dec. 22 was a “good day” for the youngster as she enjoyed visits from the Aldergrove Elks as well as Santa Claus himself.
There has been an outpouring of support for the family this month, as word spread of the family’s challenges in dealing with Ariel’s cancer. There has been a steady stream of people showing up at the family’s basement suite, bringing food, gift cards for groceries and gas, as well as wrapped gifts of clothing and toys for Ariel.
On Sunday, Dec. 16 representatives of the Aldergrove Legion brought a big Christmas hamper and gift cards for the family.
And on Saturday, Dec. 22, representatives of the Aldergrove Elks brought a big stack of grocery gift cards for the family. They were treated to a pleasant visit with Ariel, who was having a good day after recovering from her chemo treatment for the past two days.
“She is so excited about having visitors today,” said Ariel’s mother Makaila.
“She knows that there will be a ‘surprise’ visitor today but we haven’t told her who it is.”
So when Santa Claus turned up the family’s doorstep Saturday afternoon, it was a real treat for the little girl.
Ariel greeted Santa and invited him inside for a visit. Santa came bearing gifts for Ariel and helped her open the wrapped parcels, then held Ariel on his knee for portrait photos.
All too soon it was all over and Ariel and her parents bid Santa farewell.
“Come back soon,” said Ariel as she waved goodbye to Santa.
The visit by Santa was arranged by an Aldergrove benefactor, as Ariel is unable to wait in line-ups for any length of time due to her weakness from the chemo.
Makaila also says that with the flu bug going around, “We can’t take any chances of exposing her, or us, to any sickness. If we come down with anything we won’t be allowed in the hospital’s oncology department.”
Ariel’s father Shea said they appreciated the visitors that day as they have no family and few friends here because they moved from Nanaimo in June to be closer to Children’s Hospital.
“Our neighbors invited us over for Christmas dinner with their family on Christmas day and that’s going to be so nice,” said Shea.
Ariel has four more chemo treatments in the current round of 12 treatments this month. Following completion of the chemo an MRI will determine the success of the treatments.
Makaila and Shea are optimistic about the outcome, noting that the first round of 12 chemo treatments this past May shrunk the size of Ariel’s tumor by half, down to the size of a golfball.
“The doctors said that was a good result for just one round of chemo, and that usually it takes three rounds. The goal is to get it down to one-quarter of the size, and have it remain dormant,” said Shea.
Doctors have inserted a shunt to both drain the tumor and to insert the chemo directly to the tumor instead of through her bloodstream. Each visit to Children’s Hospital takes about three hours, consisting of application of a local anesthetic, draining of the tumor, application of the chemo, and monitoring of Ariel’s condition before she returns home with her parents.
The tumor has stretched her optic nerve in her left eye so much that she can no longer see out of the eye, but the family is hopeful that advances in surgery will lead to new methods of helping her to fully recover her sight.