From left: Daxon Robinson, Brooklyn Fleming, Emma Alcott, Devon Robinson, Kaeson Robinson and Mackenzie Fleming are all smiles as they prepare for Alcott’s upcoming fundraiser at the Barley Mill Brewpub. Alcott is battling stage four Hodgkin lymphoma and is thankful for the support she has - like that of her nieces, sons, and fiancé - while she battles this disease. (Jordyn Thomson - Western News)

South Okanagan mom battling stage four Hodgkin lymphoma

Emma Alcott, 24, is a mom, student, employee and now, cancer patient

Life swiftly turned upside down for Willowbrook resident Emma Alcott when she was diagnosed with stage four Hodgkin lymphoma last year.

The 24-year-old mother of two young boys—Daxon, 7, and Kaeson, 3—was one week into her psychology degree at the University of B.C. Okanagan when she learned of her diagnosis. Her fiancé, Devon Robinson, said she had been experiencing symptoms for about a year prior but they didn’t recognize them as things to worry about.

“She was having migraines constantly, then it just got to the point where she was having troubles breathing and what not,” said Robinson.

Alcott added, “There was just so many things that I didn’t know that were symptoms. Like I’d wake up in the middle of the night super itchy and I just assumed it was from my laundry soap. Then I couldn’t lift my hands above my head for very long and just thought it was like weak muscles. But those are both symptoms I never even thought to tell my doctor.”

In May 2018, doctors identified a mass in Alcott’s body and by the middle of June 2018, she was told it was Hodgkin lymphoma. According to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of Canada, Hodgkin lymphoma affects the body’s lymphatic system and is one of the curable forms of cancer.

“I was originally given stage 2B but then they started me on treatment before they had the chance to give me a PET scan. Because of how big it was, they couldn’t wait for the scan,” said Alcott. “After they did the scan they realized I was stage four.”

Alcott proceeded to undergo six months of chemotherapy in Kelowna to treat the mass, having to give up her work and school in the process. She said it was taxing on her body, but she was thankful for the support systems around her.

“One of the chemo nurses at the hospital, when I started having a really hard time, told me to take it day by day and try to focus on each day rather than when I’ll be better,” said Alcott. “That actually helped a lot.”

Her condition turned from bad to worse, however, when Alcott and Robinson received word on Christmas Eve that chemo had not shrunken the mass and it had grown since her last scan. It was then decided that Alcott needs to undergo a stem cell transplant, wiping out her body’s immune system, to treat the cancer.

Robinson said this experience has been hard for their family especially because it’s forced Alcott, a normally active and involved parent, student and employee, to slow down.

“She’s always been go, go, go and was always the one that’s first there. And now basically she had to start learning to slow down and let people help her out,” said Robinson. “Because chemo was hard on her, she got really sick there and it wasn’t helping.”

Alcott will spend three months in Vancouver beginning mid-April to receive her stem cell transplant and a high dose of chemotherapy. Then, she’ll need a follow-up six weeks later, after she is discharged. Although she was a full-time student, because she had to stop attending to get the treatment, she can not access her insurance as a student.

To make matters worse, she does not qualify for E.I. and Robinson was recently laid off from his job. This has led to the family and community starting a GoFundMe campaign to help deal with her healthcare costs and other treatment-related expenses.

“It’s been a struggle. There has been a lot harder days recently. There’s been a lot of help—we started a bottle drive (the week of Feb. 18) and so many of the neighbours have come to help out,” said Alcott.

Robinson added, “There’s a lot of people out there who have been helping us out.”

On April 6, the Barley Mill Brew Pub is hosting a fundraiser to add to the GoFundMe campaign with a silent auction, raffle door prizes, entertainment and more. Tickets are to be purchased in advance for $20 each and include a choice of a veggie burger or ribs with a side.

While Alcott continues to fight her battle against cancer, she’s also using the opportunity to educate others and help those in similar situations. She said she hopes others will “listen to their body if they think that something is wrong.”

“There’s this age gap. There’s a lot of resources available for people under 19, and people who have been working for longer have built up E.I.,” said Alcott. “But I’m in this gap, where it’s common to be diagnosed at this age with (Hodgkin lymphoma) but I can’t access any resources. As a full-time student, you don’t have the contributions to CPP or E.I. So I’d love to start a foundation to help other students in this situation.”

The fundraiser begins at 6 p.m. and tickets can be pre-purchased by calling or texting Alcott at 250-488-4567 or emailing hally@telus.net. For updates on Alcott’s journey, visit her GoFundMe page.

To report a typo, email: editor@pentictonwesternnews.com.

Jordyn Thomson | Reporter
JordynThomson 
Send Jordyn Thomson an email.
Like the Western News on Facebook.
Follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

5-foot-long snake reported lost in Rutland

Buddy the snake is reported to be harmless and was reported missing May 22

Rockslide closes one southbound lane 2 km north of Summerland

DriveBC reported the slide just after 6:30 a.m.

Kelowna parents attend gang information session

Safer Schools Together trainers and former Hells Angel spoke to parents on May 22

RV trailer fire suppressed in West Kelowna late Thursday night

West Kelowna Fire Rescue aided BC Wildfire Services near Bear Creek Park

Okanagan-Shuswap weather: weekend rain

Environment Canada forecasts continuing bad weather for the start of the weekend

BREAKING: Court says B.C. can’t restrict oil shipments in key case for Trans Mountain

A five-judge Appeal Court panel agreed unanimously that B.C.’s proposed legislation was not constitutional

More than half of Canadians support ban on handguns, assault rifles: study

Divide between rural and urban respondents in latest Angus Reid Institute public opinion study

Last call for contestants in Teen Band Contest

Winners will play on stage at Penticton Peach Festival in August

Hope grows for Shuswap foodbanks thanks to modest volunteers

Secret garden donated 1,100 pounds of vegetables produced last year

Salmon Arm seeks to borrow $845,000 for Shuswap Regional Airport runway

Residents have until June 24 to voice opposition to bylaw

Spring rain needed as B.C. sees one of the lowest snowpack levels in 40 years

Snowpack levels in B.C. recorded on May 15 were similar to those in 2015 and 2016

Theresa May to quit as party leader June 7, sparking race for new PM

The new Conservative leader will become prime minister without the need for a general election

B.C. man who fell off cliff returns there to rescue eagle from vulture attack

Nanaimo’s James Farkas, who broke his hip in a fall, saves eagle on same beach months later

Raptors beat Bucks 105-99 to move within 1 game of NBA Finals

Leonard scores 35 as Toronto takes 3-2 series lead over Milwaukee

Most Read