Toshi Sato and his family are overwhelmed with gratitude.
Aumie Sato, who turns two on Nov. 25, had a teratoma tumour removed from her lower back on Oct. 10 in BC Children’s Hospital.
Because of its proximity to her intestine, just 90 per cent could be removed. The tumour had also metastasized to her chest, forming a yolk-sac tumour, so she began undergoing chemo therapy on Oct. 21.
The community has rallied around the family, raising funds to help support them with their many expenses.
Yuko, Aumie’s mother, stays in Vancouver with Aumie, while Toshi has been in Salmon Arm with her two older sisters, Anjou and Hannah. Some days Toshi has had to shut down their restaurant, Sushi Kotan. Things have eased up somewhat for Toshi, as Yuko’s parents – who the children love – have come to Salmon Arm from Japan to help. But there are still many extra expenses.
“I feel the Salmon Arm community is such a beautiful people, a beautiful community. Our family wants to say a big thank you very much,” says Toshi emotionally.
The family was reunited in Vancouver at the hospital this past weekend. Toshi says Aumie is much better since an infection at the site of her surgery cleared up. She was on pain killers, but those have stopped. He points out that when Aumie is not doing well, neither is Yuko.
“Right now Aumie looks good and my wife is good, too,” he says.
Aumie is generally quite reserved at the hospital, but not when her two sisters came to visit.
“She was very happy when her sisters were there – she was playing, very different,” says Toshi, adding that her sisters were happy too.
Toshi also explains excitedly that he has been told Hope Air might be flying Aumi home for two days so she can celebrate her second birthday in Salmon Arm.
She has been undergoing her second round of chemo, which started Nov. 11. She must have six rounds, each consisting of five days of chemo followed by 16 days of rest.
While Aumie is undergoing chemo, she stays at the hospital. In between, she and Yuko go to Ronald McDonald House.
If Aumie does well, Toshi says she could be done in 120 days. However, if she gets any kind of a virus, chemo may be delayed.
In the meantime, he emphasizes the family’s gratitude and wants the community to know what’s happening.
“Many people give us money – we want them to know what the situation is.”
A fundraising dinner and silent auction at Shuswap Chefs on Sunday night put on by owner Rob Sengotta and supported by Downtown Salmon Arm raised a total of $17,139 for the Sato family.
“The food was a five-course, first-class meal. What a great event that demonstrates the heart in Salmon Arm,” said Sheri Hamilton, who attended the event and had high praise for Sengotta, his staff, who volunteered their time and the other organizers.
Anyone wishing to donate to the family can do so at any branch of the Salmon Arm Savings and Credit Union, to the Aumie Sato trust account. Donations can also be made at: www.youcaring.com and putting in Aumie’s name.