“Singing is my passion,” says 19-year-old Avery of Hamilton. “I’ve been singing for as long as I can remember and I want to keep singing forever. It’s been a coping mechanism that’s helped me through some tough times.”
Avery’s patient journey began in 1998 at the age of 3 months, when her family physician in Hamilton became concerned that she was cross-eyed and referred her to McMaster Children’s Hospital for an eye examination.
“The ophthalmologist suspected that Avery had a rare form of eye cancer called retinoblastoma,” recalls Avery’s mother, Ericka. “That diagnosis was confirmed in Toronto, where she went for chemotherapy. I’m grateful to McMaster Children’s Hospital for setting her on the path of treatment. Avery also had regular blood tests at McMaster Children’s Hospital during her nine cycles of chemo.”
The cancer was in remission after two years, but surgery was required in Toronto to remove her left eye and replace it with an ocular prosthesis. She sustained some vision loss in her right eye as well. Avery’s ongoing eye care will take place in Toronto.
“We thought we were in the clear, then she was diagnosed with significant hearing loss when she was 3 years old,” says Ericka. “It was difficult to receive that news, but we were grateful she was alive.”
Avery began her ongoing care with the Audiology Department of McMaster Children’s Hospital when she was fitted with her first hearing aid at the Chedoke campus. Her hearing was monitored regularly and she frequently required new listening devices as she grew.
“My hearing aids have helped me throughout my education,” Avery explains. “They’ve allowed me to hook into an FM system and have a teacher’s microphone fed directly into my ears. I also have Bluetooth-enabled hearing aids that allow me to enjoy music from my phone.”
The Audiology Department will continue providing care for the rest of Avery’s life with regular testing and servicing of hearing aids.
“The audiology team has been a godsend for our family. They’ve been such a big part of our lives and we’re grateful for their knowledge and compassion.”
To help show her gratitude, Avery sang at the official opening of Ron Joyce Children’s Health Centre in 2015.
“Thanks to the care I’ve received, I’ve been able to pursue my love of music as a hobby and a possible career,” says Avery. “I’m in my third year at college studying jazz with a focus on voice.”
Ericka is forever grateful to donors who support McMaster Children’s Hospital Foundation: “You save and transform the lives of our most precious resource – our children. It’s as simple as that.”