Mere months after undergoing a costly liver transplant stateside, a three-year-old girl laughed and played alongside the other children at SunRise Camp in Killarney on Thursday but her health concerns persist after cancer was discovered in her lungs.
For the family, the return to Calgary and the summer camp were welcome distractions.
‘To be able to come home and get back to sort of our normal with our friends and family (and) this type of (camp) which is not normal for us but is amazing to be able to experience,” said Lindsey Marofke, Greta’s mother. “It’s uplifting. In difficult times it brings a lot of joy.”
Greta Marofke was diagnosed with hepatoblastoma, a rare form of liver cancer, ahead of her second birthday. Surgeons removed approximately 70 per cent of her liver and the child underwent months of chemotherapy treatments, but the cancer returned and a liver transplant was required.
In May, Marofke underwent the procedure at a hospital in Cincinnati, Ohio. The transplant was successful but doctors determined the cancer had spread to her lungs.
The Marofkes say they’re exploring potential treatments for their daughter. The family currently faces medical bills of roughly $600,000 USD in connection with Greta’s transplant. A transplant was denied in Canada and the family says Alberta Health Care refused to cover the cost of the procedure.
Sunrise Camp was organized by Kids Cancer Care of Alberta for Greta and other children, between the age of three and seven, who have compromises immune systems.
“They get to meet each other and other kids that are going through cancer,” explained Christine Mciver of Kids Cancer Care of Alberta. “And just be kids.”
McIver says the day camps provide all members of the family with an opportunity to relax.
“Most of our parents will say the only thing that they want is to be normal again,” said McIver. “This helps them to be normal. Parents get to do what they want to do during the day, maybe go to work or maybe get away and have a little mom and dad time together, but they know that their kids are in a safe environment, we make sure that there are no colds, infections or flus amongst the kids or adults that are here with them, and they just get to have fun.”
Kids Cancer Care hosts three days camps in Calgary and one in Edmonton each year. The volunteer councillors at the summer camp included cancer survivors and oncology nurses.
Greta gave the event a ringing endorsement as the three-year-old called her day at camp ‘super fun’ and said the best part was playing.
For more information on Greta’s journey, or to donate to the cause, visit Greta’s Guardians.
Late Thursday afternoon, officials with Alberta Health Services issued the following statement regarding the Marofkes funding plight:
"Our hearts and thoughts are with Greta and her family, and we wish Greta a full recovery. We understand the family has been provided with information on how to apply to the Out-of-Country Health Services Committee."
The Out-of-Country Health Services Committee, comprised of physicians, reviews funding applications for insured services that are not available in Canada.
With files from CTV's Amanda Singroy