OTTAWA - A Kemptville area family is asking the community to keep their three-month-old daughter Tessa in their thoughts as she battles a rare form of brain cancer.

When Tessa started spitting up on November 2nd her parents, Rachel Pascas and Rob Hodgson, thought she might be suffering from acid reflux. The following day the family received the devastating news after a trip to the hospital.

“The doctor comes in and tells us to have a seat and then our world changed,” Pascas said. “There’s no preparing for something like this.”

Doctors discovered a large tumour on the left side of Tessa’s brain that has since been diagnosed as Atypical Taratoid Rhabdoid Tumor (ATRT), a rare and aggressive cancerous tumour of the brain and spinal cord.

A few days later doctors at CHEO performed a surgery to remove as much of the mass as possible.

On Tuesday, she will begin chemotherapy at CHEO before attending SickKids in Toronto for additional treatment, including a stem cell transplant. The family will be back and forth between the two cities for months.

“It’s going to be a long road, all we know is she’ll have the six cycles of chemotherapy through intravenous and then a year of oral chemotherapy with a lot of imaging and a stem cell transplant, so we’re just trying to stay positive,” Pascas said.


During this difficult time, Hodgen has chosen to leave his job to care for both Tessa and the couple's two-year-old daughter Rylee. A loved one has started a GoFundMe page for the family to help support them financially, with Hodgson off work and Pascas on maternity leave.

“It’s been tough but it’s really brought us together as a family, an extended family and community,” Hodgson said.