Addison Hill inspires new ‘Heal the Future’ campaign at SickKids hospital

TORONTO – Late Elora teenager Addison Hill is the inspiration behind a new paediatric health care campaign at The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids).

Addy, as she was known, died on July 10, 2022, after a year-long battle with angiosarcoma cancer.

But her spirit lives on with the SickKids’ Precision Child Health (PCH) “Heal the Future” campaign, which was launched on Sept. 21 with the unveiling of a huge crystal ball – inspired by the gift Addy had given to a doctor at the hospital.

The SickKids campaign aims to help diagnose faster, treat smarter and predict better.

“It’s really going to be the next evolution of paediatric health care,” said Sandra Chiovitti, director of public relations at SickKids Foundation.

“The way we’re phrasing it, is that it’s like the end of one-size-fits-all.”

Chiovitti explained it is called Precision Child Health because it is now more individualized.

“It’ll be based on their DNA and sequencing their genome. We’d like to say that it is also considering all factors in their lives and their health,” she said.

“So everything from their genetic code, to their postal code. So social determinants of health, all the different lifestyle factors right down to their DNA.”

Chiovitti added, “Right now, we just want everybody to become familiar with Precision Child Health, what it is and then a year from now we’ll launch a fundraising campaign.”

Addy’s role

At the age of just 13, Addy had her first visit with Dr. David Malkin at SickKids Hospital.  It was Oct. 13, 2021, a day which Addison’s family members say they will remember forever.

Addison asked her doctor “Am I going to die?”

The young girl had found a painless lump in her right breast that was diagnosed as angiosarcoma, a rare and aggressive form of cancer that is commonly found in the skin, breast, liver, head or neck.

The large crystal ball in front of SickKids hospital in Toronto. Submitted photo

The doctor replied by telling Addison he did not have a crystal ball to predict the future, but the team at SickKids would do everything possible to make sure that does not happen.

“So, she turned to me one day, because we were at the hospital, and said, ‘Mom, can we just get him [a crystal ball]?’ So, she picked it out. She got him one,” said Addison’s mother Jessica Hill.

“And then the next hospital admission, because there was a lot of them, she handed that to him and it sits on his desk today very proudly.”

Hill explained her daughter’s story is what sparked the start of the new campaign.

Crystal ball

SickKids celebrated the beginning of the “Heal the Future” campaign with a “larger-than-life” crystal ball on the lawn of the hospital on University Avenue.

The giant structure serves as a symbol of the PCH vision to “heal the future.”

In a recent press release, SickKids stated “the crystal ball honours the legacy of a late SickKids patient named Addison Hill whose determination and cancer journey helped inspire the campaign.”

PCH wants to make the future clearer for patients like Addison by giving health care providers the utilities and resources to fight with more precision.