Seven year old hockey player Nash “Nasher the Basher” McDonald is living up to the nickname printed on his first hockey card. Nash has always played hard on the ice, cheered on his favourite superheroes and defeated the bad guys in his video games. Now, “Nasher the Basher” is fighting an even tougher battle – one with acute lymphoblastic leukemia.
Originally from Thunder Bay, the McDonald family moved to Prince Edward County back in 2010. Linda and Dan established a new home for themselves and started a family. A few years later, Nash was joined by little sister Isabelle. No one could have imagined that Nash would go from a happy and healthy five year old to facing a daunting cancer diagnosis.
In September 2016, Nash’s mom Linda started noticing some signs that suggested he might be sick. Then one morning, Linda knew something was seriously wrong. Nash sneezed a blood clot out. She rushed him to their family doctor in Picton, who was immediately concerned. Nash was taken for blood tests and then sent to the Kingston Health Sciences Centre’s Kingston General Hospital (KGH) site.
Dan and Linda describe the time between visiting their family doctor and their rushed drive to the KGH site as a bit of a blur. The family was devastated to learn that Nash was suffering from an acute form of leukemia. Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia progresses slowly at first but once there is significant number of cancer cells, they grow rapidly and can take a long, hard battle to beat.
The family received an abundance of support from their community, for which they are grateful, as they do not have many family members close by to lend a hand. Nash’s diagnosis and treatment plan was challenging for the whole family. The first year involved long stays at the KGH site and many trips back and forth to the hospital for treatment and checkups. Fortunately, the Cancer Centre of Southeastern Ontario is right here in Kingston – just a short drive for the McDonald family. The McDonalds are grateful for the outstanding care they have received close to home.
“From the first day to now the care Nash has received has been amazing! The whole medical team really get to know the children and help them understand what is happening to them,” comments Linda, “Nash was staying in the hospital on Kidd 10 during the construction of the playroom and two teen rooms that Kids for Kids helped to make possible. To see how those rooms were transformed to something that made it okay to just be a kid, has made this devastating diagnosis and journey bearable.”
Today, Nash is in the maintenance stage of his treatments. He still loves hockey, soccer, baseball and superheroes. His sister Isabelle bounces around him, enjoying the fact that he has fewer hospital visits with machines and tubes that make no sense to a younger sibling.
His parents continue to face ongoing challenges related to Nash’s diagnosis. As Nash’s treatment continues, seemingly simple things like a fever can send the family rushing to the Emergency Department. But they know that when they arrive, caring staff members are there to greet them and are always just a phone call away to talk them through issues.
Outstanding care close to home makes all the difference to families like the McDonalds.
“Nasher’s” diagnosis and treatment has kept him off the ice this year but he and his family remain hopeful that he’ll soon be able to lace up his skates and get back in the game. Until then, he continues to live up to his name.