Personal Story - Mackenzie's Story: Finding Hope

After receiving a bone marrow transplant in Toronto, Mackenzie Curran was able to return home to Kingston months earlier than expected because of the high quality of care offered at Kingston General Hospital. Community support, and a dream to play basketball again, helped her stay hopeful throughout her entire recovery.

When asked to describe her 16-year-old self, Mackenzie Curran says that she was “pretty normal.” The grade 10 student thrived in math and science classes, and spent her afternoons playing basketball for her school team.

Mackenzie noticed that she was easily tired during basketball practice, and one morning she didn’t have the energy to sit up in bed. Doctors thought that a virus was causing her white blood cell count to be low, but six months later her red blood cell count also dropped, indicating that something much worse was happening.

The lab results of a bone marrow biopsy showed that she had Myelodysplastic Syndrome (MDS)—a type of pre-leukemia that disrupts the normal production of blood cells. She would need a bone marrow transplant to survive.

“It was pretty devastating,” said Mackenzie of her diagnosis. “I had to find hope in little places. I relied a lot on the support from the community and my goal to play basketball again.”

Under different circumstances, Mackenzie would have stayed at the Ronald McDonald house for six months after receiving the transplant at SickKids, but because of the high quality of care available here in Kingston she was able to return home before Christmas.

“[Sick Kids] knew that KGH had the tools and knowledge to take care of me properly,” explained Mackenzie. “It was really amazing to be able to come home so quickly afterwards. I had complete trust in my doctors.”

From the lab staff who made the initial diagnosis, to the social workers and nurses who made her smile every day, many unforgettable staff members played a part in Mackenzie’s’ recovery.

“You don’t really know what your future is going to be when you have cancer, you’re overwhelmed with the news and the treatment,” said Mackenzie. “[The staff] are absolutely amazing. They take away from the negative part of it and made it a more positive experience—I really appreciated that.”