Youngster could be home by summer
The six-year-old boy, known to family and friends as “Mighty Mitch,” has been battling high-risk acute lymphoblast leukemia at the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO) since September.
Two weeks ago, Mitchell, who also has Down Syndrome, was started on interim maintenance chemotherapy.
This means that he's supposed to have a 24-hour-long chemotherapy infusion once a week. He's due to receive four of the treatments in total.
“It really knocked the wind out of him,” said his father, BJ Jones.
“He was bleeding from the mouth and nose and didn't eat for two weeks. He puffed up like a balloon because of fluid retention. It was all a bit grim there for awhile.”
Because he wasn't eating, the boy was fed through tubes after his treatment. He also has a catheter because his urine is toxic due to the chemotherapy.
When Mitchell finally recovered from the last chemotherapy infusion, it was time for him to receive another one. Jones said he seems to be withstanding the treatment better this time.
He said he and his wife, Joanne Dagg, are really concerned about the “intensification” phase of Mitchell's chemotherapy, which is coming up after he's done interim maintenance chemotherapy.
“That's got us worried,” Jones said. “It's very, very heavy duty.”
The past few months have been very difficult for the family, who only moved to Sudbury from Ireland in July.
They made the move because Dagg had been born and raised in Sudbury, and she and her husband figured Mitchell would be able to receive better government-funded services here.
Dagg pretty much spends 24 hours a day at Mitchell's bedside. Jones has been driving back and forth between Sudbury and Ottawa, as their other son, eight-year-old Jack, attends school in Sudbury.
“When I do go to Ottawa, I'll stay in the hospital with Mitch, just give her a break,” he said. “She's able to go across the road to Ronald McDonald House.”
Jack misses having his brother around, Jones said.
“He gets up in the morning, and there's the empty bed on the other side of the room,” he said. “So there's little reminders everywhere for him. He's putting on a brave face, but he'll be very glad when Mitch is back.”
Jones said he hopes better days are coming soon. Mitchell may be able to come back to Sudbury by summer, only travelling back to CHEO every few weeks for treatments.
“There is light at the end of the tunnel,” Jones said. “They just seem to be adding on more tunnel all the time, if you know what I mean.”
The Sudbury community rallied last fall to help the family, who have suffered financial hardship because of Mitchell's illness.
When the boy first started treatments at CHEO, he hadn't yet received his OHIP card, meaning the family faced a large medical bill.
Fortunately, they've learned their private insurance will cover the bill, and Mitchell's OHIP card has since come in.
Jones, an Irish citizen, recently received his permanent Canadian residency card, which means he's now able to get a job here.
However, he thinks his family's situation means he won't be able to work more than part-time for now. Dagg, of course, has been unable to work because she's spending all her time at her son's bedside.
“Financially, there's a strain,” Jones said.
“But of course, everybody was so vastly generous. We do have a little bit of reserve, and we're being very careful with it. It's difficult, because even just going to Ottawa and coming back, in petrol and food, it's $200.
“If you do that once or twice a week, that eats into your reserves, but nonetheless, it has to be done. We'd be absolutely lost if people hadn't been so nice and generous and kind and open-hearted.”
Those interested in donating to the family should ask about the Mitchell Jones Trust Fund at the Sudbury Credit Union's Second Avenue location.