Be the Gold

The next segment of my BE THE GOLD Childhood cancer awareness series addresses the childhood cancer impact on the parent and family of the child diagnosed.  It was heart wrenching to read the honest and heartfelt answers to my questions from two moms who have had this shattering experience.  Both of these amazing ladies have become very close friends of mine and are ladies that I respect and admire.

The first installment of my BE THE GOLD – A Parent’s Perspective comes from a mom with a daughter diagnosed with MEDULLABLASTOMA, a malignant brain tumour.

QUESTION:     What age was your child when they were diagnosed?

A competitive dancer prior to diagnosis

A competitive dancer prior to diagnosis

Our daughter was and active 8 year old when she was first diagnosed.  She was a competitive dancer and soccer player.

QUESTION:     What was your gut reaction to the diagnosis?

SHOCK and HORROR!

Our daughter was ill for a period of time, suffering from headaches, nausea and some balance issues.  We initially thought it was a severe inner ear infection but after it persisted, we were directed to a Neurologist.  We met with the Neurologist at 2pm, he did a quick series of tests, immediately sent us for more tests at the Children’s Hospital and then we were instructed to come back to his office with the test results.  We were told in his office that our daughter has a large tumour on the brain and we were directed right back to the Children’s hospital where we were immediately admitted to ICU.  Our 2pm appointment became a six month stay on the oncology ward of the children’s hospital and our home away from home for the next 10 years.

QUESTION:     Can you give some insight (if you are ok with sharing) into what went through your mind?

In ICU

In ICU

I remember sitting in the Emergency room at the children’s hospital waiting for the Neurosurgeon to meet with us, holding my daughter on my knee and reading to her as though nothing was different than it was 4 hours earlier.  The only way to describe it, is you go into an “autopilot” mode.  You go through the motions and you appear composed on the outside in front of your child but on the inside you are crying, screaming and completely overwhelmed.  I will never forget sitting in a room with my daughter’s Neurosurgeon as he discussed the urgency of operating on our daughter.  She would be admitted immediately into ICU and start an aggressive steroid drip to try and decrease the fluid build up on her brain followed by a six hour MRI to mark her brain for surgery,  and then a 10 to 14 hour surgery to try and extract the tumour.  It is like it is happening to someone else.  I remember staring at his hands and thinking that they would be responsible for saving our daughter’s life.  I recall one of the other parent’s in the ward comparing it to the morning of 9-11;  “The world stops, you will always remember where you were and what you were doing at that point in time and life would never be the same again!”

QUESTION:     How has your child’s diagnosis changed your family life?

Well, because of our daughter’s complications, we lived in the hospital for six months and

With her brother who shaved his head to be bald with her

With her brother who shaved his head to be bald with her

then stayed at least six nights every 3 weeks for the next 56 weeks while she underwent her aggressive chemotherapy and radiation treatment and started a strict daily regimen of physical and occupational therapy sessions.  She went into her surgery able to walk and talk like a normal 8 year old and came out of the surgery unable to do either.  It was devastating!  Family time was spent at the hospital and home cooked meals were a thing of the past.  Our son moved in with his grandparents so he could continue with his schooling and activities and we tried our best to switch off so as parents we could be there for him as well.  Having a child with cancer is also very isolating.  Often, when they are at home, they are neutropenic (meaning their immune systems are compromised) so no visitors can be allowed and everyone must go through a strict “sterilization” process when they get home so they won’t bring possible infection into the home.

QUESTION:     I have been in the Oncology unit of the children’s hospital but it must be surreal to actually stay there.  Is it as overwhelming as it seems to an outsider?

Prepping for chemo treatment

Prepping for chemo treatment

Yes, the children’s oncology ward is surreal to say the least.  Children are in different phases of treatment, most have no hair and are very ill but they still manage to smile at the childcare workers and the hospital clown and they can still be found in the playroom trying to shut out the sickness and focus on playroom activities.  The parents are sleep-deprived, coffee indulged and can be found at all times of the day and night walking the halls, consoling their child or grabbing a few minutes of sleep on a sleep chair beside their child.  You do what you can to make it your “new NORMAL!”

QUESTION:     What are some of the experiences you would like to share with others to make them aware of what your child and others diagnosed go through?

There are too many to write down so I guess what I would want people to know is that

Physiotheraphy session

Physiotheraphy session

having a child with cancer is every parent’s nightmare.  To see your child having to go through treatment, surgeries, painful therapies and being isolated socially is heartbreaking;  you want to find some way to take on the pain yourself but you can’t, so you suffer through it all and do your best to stay strong for your child.

QUESTION:     Childhood cancer Awareness is my national Charity Platform, is there a message you would like to deliver to others to increase awareness?

We need to find a cure for childhood cancer;  all the different types.  Our family has become very involved in creating awareness in the past few years and it is our goal to make more people understand the impacts that a childhood cancer diagnosis has on the child and the family.  You never know what child will be affected next; yours or someone close to you, so making everyone aware of the effects of childhood cancer and urging everyone to take a stand, make a donation and make a difference is critical!

QUESTION:     Finally, what have you learned from your child having gone through this diagnosis and subsequent treatment?

Receiving the Medal of Honour for Youth Volunteers from L.Governor

Receiving the Medal of Honour for Youth Volunteers from L.Governor

Well, we have certainly learned a lot from our daughter.  She inspires us every day to do what we can to create awareness and raise funds for childhood cancer.  Despite her limitations and her fragile health, she has been determined to “pay it forward” and to help the charities that have helped us through her diagnosis.  She has been recognized for her inspiration, courage and for telling her story to others to encourage people to get involved in childhood cancer charities.  She has amazing strength and she has taught us to live every day to the fullest and not to take anything for granted.  As a parent, my one piece of advice I would like to share is to always express your love to those who mean the most to you. I tell every parent, hug your children and be thankful for having been blessed with them.  They truly are a GIFT!

 

Thank you for sharing just a fraction of your story with us.  I know I have been touched by your story and I know others will be too.

Awareness+Funds+Action=A CURE

Keep tuned in for my second installment of BE THE GOLD – A Parent’s Perspective.

Theresa

 

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HAPPY CANADA D’EH!

Canada-Flag-wallpapers-3

Well it was rainy and cold but it was still a day to celebrate Canada’s 148th birthday!

Regardless if you live in a small rural town like me, or in a major city, everyone throughout this beautiful country took time out of their busy schedules yesterday to celebrate BEING CANADIAN. Family traditions were followed, whether it was gathering at Parliament Hill, at the family cottage, or in your back yard, everyone has their own special way to celebrate our Country’s birthday.

All ready for Canada Day celebrations

All ready for Canada Day celebrations

The security was tight on Parliament Hill after the attack on October 22nd but it did not dampen the spirits (nor could the weather) of the multitude of proud Canadians who flocked to Parliament Hill for the special July 1st celebrations.  The show did go on and although the snowbirds were delayed in the morning, they did perform later in the day.

parliament fireworksWe are so fortunate to live in this amazing country; “The TRUE NORTH STRONG AND FREE!”  A diverse country compiled of numerous ethnic backgrounds all inhabitants of a Canadian city/town.  Our country is a vast land of exceptional beauty and astounding scenery but I think our most valuable resource is the People.  We are a friendly and courteous bunch and I am proud to be a Canadian, toque and all!

I hope everyone had a safe and happy Canada Day and that we hold the pride that we all encompassed yesterday throughout the year!

Stay tuned in,

Theresa

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ftc logo revised

Sunny skies and enthusiastic ball players graced my KICK OFF  event  for my SIX WEEK Free the Children, Miss Teenage Canada Fund raising project.  It was a fantastic day and everyone in attendance was supportive of the cause and the event.  Special thanks to the convenors of the McNab Ball Park for their support.

IMG_1025The tournament consisted of each team playing a four game minimum in the qualifying rounds and then the top teams heading to the semi finals and finals of the A and B divisions.  At the end of the day the B Side Winning Team was the Barry’s Bay ORIOLES and the A side Champions were VALLEY BUCKS.

FTC Mixed Lob Ball Champs VALLEY BUCKS

FTC Mixed Lob Ball Champs VALLEY BUCKS

A very competitive and fun “Home Run Derby” was held during the day and although I gave the girl’s division a good shot, ending up in a playoff scenario, I eventually lost out to an amazing hitter; APRIL GILLAN.  The men’s division was also competitive and well attended and the Men’s Home Run Derby Champion was a true “champion hitter!”

PLAY BALL!

PLAY BALL!

Special thanks to GAYLE CORBIN

Special thanks to GAYLE CORBIN

The day was very successful and I would like to thank Gayle Corbin for all of her help and expertise in planning, organizing and running the tournament.  What an amazing lady.  I am so appreciative of your time and efforts!

In addition, the lovely KATHLEEN BARR, Miss Teen Ontario East 2015 was one of my UMPIRES for the day; proving that she can command attention in a ball cap just like she can in a tiara.

Miss Teen Ontario East 2015 Kathleen Barr Umpire Extraordinaire!

Miss Teen Ontario East 2015 Kathleen Barr Umpire Extraordinaire!

Also umpiring was  my MTOE pageant friend BREIGH WHALEN, GAYLE CORBIN, APRIL GILLAN, DANIELLE MILLER and even my MTOE Pageant Mom ANNETTE donned the umpire mask.   Also assisting during the day with scoring was MTOE 2nd Runner UP 2015 KAITLIN McMILLAN. KATHERINE WEATHERBED, TIFFANY HERRON, LOGAN SCHUTT, RILEY CORBIN and ALICIA FORGIE. 

All the while my friend PAIGE DILLABOUGH was manning the canteen and my MTOE pageant Moms;  PIXIE, DONNA and PATTI were BBQing and keeping everyone fed for the day.  Special thanks must go out to my employer, BARRY’S BAY METRO for helping with the food costs.

Always there to help;  MY MOM

Always there to help; MY MOM

My personal support team;  my MOM who was  instrumental in getting supplies to the ball field, baking muffins and helping me to prepare and clean up at the tournament;  and BRANDON for assisting with the tournament logistics, recruiting teams and running the Home Run Derby were by my side through the planning and on tournament day.

I am truly blessed to have had the assistance of all of these wonderful people who gave up their time to ensure my premiere FTC Fund Raising event was a success.  I am looking forward to the remainder of my planned events which I will be hosting after FINAL EXAMS have been completed.

 

Keep tuned in,

Theresa

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My Senior Year!  My Senior Prom!  Memories to cherish for a lifetime.

MTEO Prom

 

It is an evening that is highly anticipated by all and my Prom certainly did not disappoint.  It was everything I hoped for and more;  A wonderful evening spent with special friends commemorating our senior year.  The Great Gatsby theme which adorned the Golden Sands Resort located on beautiful Golden Lake, gave an aura of mystic and glamour and provided a wonderful atmosphere for the evening’s festivities.

MTEO Prom with Brandon

The evening was everything I hoped it would be and the graduating class in attendance cherished our last opportunity to be together as a group in a school social setting before heading off on our individual journeys.  Topping off the evening was the crowning of Prom King and Queen; James Trader and the lovely Emma Phannenhour.

MVDHS 2015 Prom King and Queen

MVDHS 2015 Prom King and Queen

“We raise our girls to Reach for the Sky… But sometimes it’s still just about the dress!” Unknown

Forever Friends

Forever Friends

Yes, THE DRESS is an important factor and the focus  for any girl attending Prom and every girl at my Prom felt special and beautiful in the specific dress she choose for her magical night.  It was an array of colours and sparkles, slim fitting and ballroom style, long and short, all just as lovely as the next one.   Not to be outdone, the gentlemen were equally as handsome and  all formally outfitted in suits and tuxedos with the odd pair of cowboy boots and camo hat thrown into the mix.  It was a truly memorable evening.

SENIOR PROM should be a special memory for every graduating senior and I hope everyone’s proved to be as unforgettable as mine was.

MTEO Prom family

Next step… GRADUATION!

Keep tuned in,

Theresa

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“We make a living by what we get, but we make a life but what we give.”  Winston Churchill

Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario

Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario

MTEO Telethon 2015What an impacting statement; simple but true.  This past weekend, I participated in the annual Children’s Miracle Network telethon for CHEO (Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario) and I was overwhelmed once again by the experience.  The Eastern Ontario and Western Quebec communities at large banded together and the support received from corporations, clubs, groups and people of all ages resulted in a record breaking $7.9million donation to CHEO.

On the VIP phones with Kathleen Barr Miss Teen Ontario East 2015

On the VIP phones with Kathleen Barr Miss Teen Ontario East 2015

On the TV screen with CTV host Jeff Hopper

On the TV screen with CTV host Jeff Hopper

I had the opportunity, along with my successor, Miss Teen Ontario East 2015 Kathleen Barr, to answer the VIP phones taking pledges and chatting with folks who called in to support the hospital.  It also gave us the unique opportunity to see the inner workings of such a large scale event and the incredible team of volunteers that it takes to make the event a resounding success.  It was amazing to watch the various components involved and how they all come together to present the telethon that the viewers see on their TV screens at home.

MTEO CHEO 4

What an amazing day visiting with some of the “CHEO KIDS”, hearing their stories and learning first-hand what CHEO means to them.  It was humbling to hear what many of these incredible children have been through and how the CHEO medical staff and support teams helped to make their stay in the hospital bearable and even fun at times.  The resilience and strength of the kids is unbelievable and the fact that they speak about their time in the hospital fondly even though it was very traumatic is a credit to the wonderful team of professionals at CHEO.

Clown Class with CHEO kids Maira, Helen, Sophia and MTOE Kathleen

Clown Class with CHEO kids Maira, Helen, Sophia and MTOE Kathleen

Kathleen and I also had the “unique” opportunity to sit with CHEO’s famous clown; MOLLYPENNY and have a serious “CLASS CLOWN” workshop with some of our new friends; Maira, Helen and Sophia.   Mollypenny is an institution within the hospital walls and goes through the halls and wards making kids laugh and keeping them and their siblings entertained during long, stressful, hospital days.  It is an incredible program.  The THERAPEUTIC CLOWN PROGRAM AT CHEO, led by Mollypenny has been in existence since 2001 and is funded by anonymous donors.

Mollypenny Clowning at CHEO with Spartacat

Mollypenny Clowning at CHEO with Spartacat

Mollypenny’s primary goals are:

  • Empower the child and create an atmosphere of fun for patients, family and staff
  • Offer moral support
  • Normalize the hospital environment
  • Assist in distraction and offer procedural support, when appropriate
  • Find humour in a situation and encourage it.
  • Recruit new trainees for “Kid Clown School” where Mollypenny will take a child along with her to do her rounds and train her/him to be a Clown for a Day, costume and all.

    Clown for a Day program

    Clown for a Day program

 

More information on this program is available at http://www.therapeuticclowns.ca

Attending and participating in events such as this past weekend’s telethon is truly empowering and it motivates me to continue to volunteer and participate even after my reign as Miss Teenage Eastern Ontario comes to an end.  You truly do GET back when you GIVE either of your time or through donation!  You can’t help but feel that you have made a difference in some small way to ensure someone else’s life is just that much easier because of your contribution.

With Mollypenny, MTOE Kathleen Barr and our CHEO friends Maira, Sophia and Helen

With Mollypenny, MTOE Kathleen Barr and our CHEO friends Maira, Sophia and Helen

I am honoured to have been invited to participate at the 2015 CHEO telethon and I am glad I could, even in a small way, help them to surpass their goal.

Remember, “Every child is a different kind of FLOWER, and all together they make this world a Beautiful Garden!”

Keep tuned in,

 

Theresa

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Be the Gold

I would like to officially kick off my Childhood Cancer Awareness BLOG Interview series which I have titled “BE THE GOLD” with an amazing woman who I have had the chance to get to know over the past year;  JOCELYN LAMONT, Executive Director of the CANDLELIGHTERS Childhood Cancer Support Programs Inc.

Joce headshot

Charity organizations are only successful under dedicated, committed and compassionate leadership.  Ms. Lamont has all of these traits and more.  I have admired her boundless energy and the vision that she portrays for the Candlelighters charity.  Candlelighters, like other childhood cancer charities, are an essential component to the families going through their child’s struggles and their success means more and more children and families are receiving much needed assistance and support.

My interview notes with Ms. Lamont:

Question:            How long have you been involved with the Candlelighters?

Ms Lamont:        I became the organization’s volunteer Executive Director in 1998 and the role has grown since then to what it is today.  It is my full time career and we have staff and volunteers to run all of our programs and services.

Question:            What inspired you to work with this charity?

Ms Lamont:        My own son Connor was diagnosed with cancer in 1995 and sadly passed away in 1997.  Our family’s experience, while certainly not the outcome we had hoped for, was filled with much happiness and many good memories in amongst some obviously terrible sadness and grief in the short 20 months we had from the time Connor was diagnosed until he passed.  But Connor inspired me to do something so other families would have opportunities for happiness along their journey with childhood cancer and feel comforted and supported, just like we did.  We were so fortunate to have friends and family around us always, but it was obvious others were not so fortunate.  And then, I saw a plaque that said “BELIEVING – In the journey of life what may appear to be the end is actually a new beginning” and well, the rest is history.

Question:            What are some unique facts about Candlelighters?

Ms Lamont:        Candlelighters has grown so much over the years.  Our CYBERKIDS program started out with a bunch of old computers that we had help putting together – old 386’s.  Our parking program initially started with providing families one month of parking and now all families have 100% of their parking expenses covered.

Question:            What gives you the greatest satisfaction out of your job?

Ms Lamont:        Knowing that every day we make a difference in someone’s life.

Jocelyn Lamont at Candlelighters Suite at Sens game

Jocelyn Lamont at Candlelighters Suite at Sens game

Question:            Your job requires a great level of dedication.  How many events would you attend in a year for Candlelighters?

Ms Lamont:        Wow!  Lots!  I don’t know a count but between Candlelighters events and activities and other events that I attend to promote our charity, it would be well over 100 a year.

Candlelighters' Tribute Number at the Teen Ontario East Pageant

Candlelighters’ Tribute Number at the Teen Ontario East Pageant

Question:            What would you say is the Candlelighters’ greatest resource?

Ms Lamont:        Our enthusiastic volunteers, like yourself, and our amazing sponsor companies who ensure that year after year we can keep expanding our services and increasing our support.

Question:            Is there anything you would like to tell my audience about Candlelighters?

Ms Lamont:        We are small but we are mighty!  Simple things in a complicated world have tremendous impact.

Question:            Any closing thoughts?

Ms Lamont:        I just really want to wish you the best in Toronto Theresa.  You have been wonderful and I want nothing but the best for you always.

Greeting at Goyman Galleries Spring Bloom Gala for Candlelighters

Greeting at Goyman Galleries Spring Bloom Gala for Candlelighters

 

When compiling my notes from Ms Lamont’s responses, her statement;  “Simple things in a complicated World have tremendous impact” had so much meaning to me and really personify what the Candlelighters organization is really all about.  The “simple things in life” like breakfast with the family, catching the bus for school, doing homework in the cafeteria, paying the phone bill, or having friends over for coffee, are things that are “simple” to most of us, but to a family dealing with a child with cancer, these “simple” things are not so easily done and do have a “tremendous impact!”  They are every day events that we take for granted but for Childhood cancer families they are a gift!

Ms Lamont with Champion Paige at Philanthropy Awards

Ms Lamont with Champion Paige at Philanthropy Awards

I would like to thank Jocelyn Lamont, Executive Director of Candlelighters Childhood Cancer Support Programs Inc. for taking the time from her very hectic schedule to answer my questions and participate in my Childhood Cancer Awareness Blog series.  I have the greatest respect for Ms Lamont for what she does for others every day, but most of all, I am in awe of her dedication.  Before this interview, I did not know about Connor and that he was the motivating factor that drives Jocelyn Lamont to help other childhood cancer families.  What an incredible legacy!

Keep tuned in for my “BE THE GOLD” submission to get a Parent’s perspective,

 

Theresa

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With Champion JACOB“Someday, God willing, we are going to beat all the odds and made childhood cancer a thing of the past!”  Danny Thomas – famous actor and Founder of St. Jude Children’s Hospital

Until a cure is found, HELP IS NEEDED! 

Over the past year, I have had the unique opportunity to become involved with several childhood cancer charities but one charity has truly touched my heart; an amazing charity that does all that it can to help kids with cancer and their families as they struggle and fight to win their battle;  CANDLELIGHTERS CHILDHOOD CANCER Support Programs Inc.  I have volunteered, been an Ambassador and have had the pleasure of meeting and becoming friends with several of their families.  It has been a life-changing experience.

Candlelighters logo final

CANDLELIGHTERS — OUR VISION…

Is to ensure that the best quality of life is afforded to every child and every family affected by childhood cancer – from diagnosis, through treatment and beyond.

CANDLELIGHTERS — OUR MISSION…

Is to promote awareness and understanding regarding the impact of childhood cancer, while enriching the lives of children and their families coping with this disease.

I don’t think I truly understood what childhood cancer does not only to the young patient but also to their family and extended circle of friends until I had the chance to see first-hand the obstacles that they must go through.  For instance, did you know that even though the parent(s) often have to take a leave from their job(s) to be with their child in the hospital that their mortgage, household bills and everyday responsibilities still go on?  I had certainly never thought of that.  Suddenly, their family unit is bringing in less money, has increased medical expenses and living expenses while at the hospital and yet are still expected to pay creditors!  It is unbelievable that these stresses are still predominant even though the family’s focus is on the health of their sick child!  It is something we just don’t think about.  Thankfully CANDLELIGHTERS does think of these things and helps the families to cope through their AMENITIES program.  This is a financial assistance program that helps families to pay household bills, childcare expenses and everyday costs that need to be addressed even though the family income is often reduced drastically.  This program has been the financial assistance program that many of the families that I have spoken with needed.

Paige CHEMO

Did you know that on average it costs $14.00 a day to park at the hospital?  For one of my Childhood Cancer Champions, who spent approximately 216 days in hospital in her first year of treatment this would have cost over $3024.00.  The CANDLELIGHTER’S Parking Pass program provides parking passes to the families of children on treatment so they don’t have to incur this additional expense.

Segregation and isolation from others is something that becomes second nature to a young cancer patient.  At certain phases of their treatment cycle, they need to be isolated from others so they don’t come in contact with germs or kids with the common cold because of their compromised immune systems.  This can be very impacting on a teenager especially and the patients feel alone and lonely.  CANDLELIGHTERS CYBERKIDS program provides laptops to kids on treatment so they can “stay connected” to the outside world, their friends, their school and still maintain a social life even if it is only through social media.  This program was certainly the most important when I asked the kids “What does Candlelighters do for you?”

1/2 of Paige's Courage Bead necklace

1/2 of Paige’s Courage Bead necklace

We cannot truly understand what a child with cancer goes through unless we are there beside them for their entire journey but I have seen firsthand the impact that the CANDLELIGHTER’S COURAGE BEAD Program can have on an audience.  This program is very unique and allows each cancer champion the opportunity to map their individual cancer journey in beads.  The kids are given a leather string when their start their treatment and there are coloured beads which represent the various activities that they must go through as part of their treatment protocol.  My friend and cancer champion is a motivational speaker and she tells her story to others to spread awareness for childhood cancer and the charities that support kids with cancer.  She presents her COURAGE BEAD necklace when she speaks.  It is extremely impacting!  Her necklace (when all together) would go around the perimeter of a large school gymnasium.  It catalogues every time she had blood work done, the number of nights she spent in the hospital, the numerous trips she made to the hospital clinics, surgeries that she had and chemotherapy treatment and radiation treatments that she had to endure.  It gives such a powerful visual of the life of a cancer patient!  It is truly heart wrenching.  But my friend is proud of her necklace because it is a constant reminder of what she endured and what courage she had to go through what she did!

CANDLELIGHTERS also believe that kids also need fun nights out with their family; to leave the confines of the hospital and have an evening of fun at an Ottawa Senator’s game or a concert.  Their SUITE SEATS program provides this unique opportunity and gives everyone a much-needed break from “cancer life”.

YSI Logo sampleIn addition to all of these amazing programs, the CANDLELIGHTERS also offer support groups for childhood cancer young survivors,  parents and siblings because they are going through cancer as well.  Their lives have been forever changed too and they need support and an opportunity to meet with others for peer support.  Bereavement support is also offered for those families whose young cancer warriors lost their battle and their families need to find a way to go on.

It is so difficult to put into words the impact that a charity like the CANDLELIGHTERS has on children with cancer and their families.  Personally, my life has been forever changed and enriched since I became involved with this amazing organization. I am honoured to be an Ambassador and to introduce many of you who may not be aware of the incredible work being done by CANDLELIGHTERS for childhood cancer kids and their families.

Attending the Masquer-Aid Gala for CANDLELIGHTERS with Cancer Champion PAIGE

Attending the Masquer-Aid Gala for CANDLELIGHTERS with Cancer Champion PAIGE

Thank you to CANDLELIGHTERS Childhood Cancer Support Programs Inc for all you do to enrich the lives of kids with cancer.

Stay tuned for my interview with Executive Director Jocelyn Lamont!

Theresa

 

 

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2015 Chamber of Commerce Community Awards Night

Last week I was invited to attend the annual Chamber of Commerce Community Awards night which recognizes and celebrates community individuals and groups for their strong volunteerism and impact within the area.

It was a wonderful evening.  I had to opportunity to meet the nominees in all categories;  Best New Business of the Year, Skilled Trade Employer of the Year, Chamber Member of the Year, BIA Member of the Year, President’s Award, Honorary Award, Community Organization of the Year, Outstanding Business of the Year, Lifetime Business Achievement Award, Youth of the Year Award and the Citizen of the Year.  It was a collection of some of the most valuable members of the community;  People who give time, commitment and resources to better the region and enrich the lives of those that surround them.

I was on hand to assist my friend and Childhood Cancer Champion, Paige to present the Youth of the Year Award, an award that she has previously been recognized with, to a wonderful young lady Megan Bulmer who volunteers with several charities in the area including the essential workings of the Food Bank.

Presenting Youth of the Year Award with previous recipient Paige Dillabough

Presenting Youth of the Year Award with previous recipient Paige Dillabough

My proudest moment of the festivities was when my home pageant;  The Teen Ontario East Pageant Organization was formally recognized as the Community Organization of the Year.  This group of women, all volunteers, that I have had the fortune to work alongside of, and be the Ambassador for,  received commendation for their hours of dedication to their Childhood Cancer Awareness Fund raising campaign and for making a positive impact on the youth in the region.  Accepting the award with newly crowned 1st Runner Up 2015 Payton Rochon and 2nd Runner Up 2015 Kaitlin McMillan and 12 of the hardworking committee members was indeed an honour.  These women are truly amazing!  They never say no when asked to help or take on a project,  and their teamwork is incredible and entertaining to watch!  They truly enjoy helping and are prime examples of outstanding VOLUNTEERISM.

Photo with the MTOE Community Group of the Year Award with 2015 2nd Runner Up Kaitlin McMillan and 2015 1st Runner Up Payton Rochon

Recognition is not expected or required by those who are true volunteers, those who honestly want to enrich and assist the lives of others  but, to see a group recognized and celebrated for their countless hours and commitment to childhood cancer and other important charities was truly appreciated.  I am so proud to be associated with this organization and I am honoured to wear their sash.

Special congratulations to my Teen Ontario East Pageant Organization and all of the recipients recognized at the Chamber of Commerce Community Awards Night.

Thank you for inviting me to attend,

Keep tuned in,

Theresa

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I GO GOLD in support of CHILDHOOD CANCER AWARENESS!

 

Raising AWARENESS of CHILDHOOD CANCER and the need to support the brave young heroes stricken by the disease and their families has become a passion of mine, so it is the platform that I will be promoting at the Miss Teenage Canada pageant.

 

Over the past 15 months I have had the opportunity to get very involved with several charities associated with childhood cancer and I have been blessed to have met several Childhood cancer champions and their families.  These courageous, incredible warriors have made an impact on my life.  The fact that they can go through what they do and still manage to smile and give others strength is truly remarkable.

In the coming weeks leading up to the Miss Teenage Canada Pageant, I will be presenting various perspectives of the impact that childhood cancer has on the patient and the family.  I am hoping that by reading my BLOG, you will be captivated by my young heroes and you will spread the word about the need to support the charities that support these kids!  If I can enlist one volunteer, or if my blog results in even one donation to a childhood cancer charity, then I will have helped to make a difference in the lives of these young warriors.

 

So, before I start to share my “interview series” with you, I wanted  to share some startling statistics on childhood cancer that have been provided by Childhood Cancer Canada to give you some important background on the severity and critical need to bring awareness.

 

  • In Canada, childhood cancer is rare, but remains responsible for more deaths from age one through adolescence than any other disease. In relative terms, more deaths are from cancer than asthma, diabetes, cystic fibrosis and AIDS combined.

 

  • There are 10,000 children living with cancer in Canada today.

 

  • Approximately 1 in 5 children who are diagnosed with cancer will die of the disease.

 

  • Childhood cancers have no known cause, making it hard to recognize, and reduce risks of children getting cancer.

 

  • 1 in 400 children will be diagnosed with cancer before their 19th birthday.

 

  • On average approximately 1800 kids are diagnosed in Canada each year and about 800 will die.

 

  • For a parent, having a child diagnosed with cancer can be one of the most difficult, emotional and overwhelming experiences they will ever face.

 

  • Brain tumors are the leading cause of solid cancer deaths in children under the age of 20.

 

  • Childhood cancers differ from adult cancers in: the types of cancers that develop; how the cancers appear as a sign or symptom (presentation); how the cancers spread; how the cancers are treated; how the cancers respond to treatment; and survival rates.

 

  • The word cancer is used to describe a group of more than 200 different diseases. Each of these diseases is different, but they share common features and they develop as a result of similar disruptions in cell growth and division. There are 40 different types of childhood cancer.

 

  • Childhood cancers tend to respond to treatment better than adult cancers, and children tolerate treatment better than adults.

 

  • Cancer in children and youth creates a large impact on health, economic and social welfare systems. It also places a burden on the child or adolescent with cancer and their family. As more children and youth survive cancer, the need for long-term monitoring and follow-up care will continue to grow.

 

  • An estimated two-thirds of child and youth cancer survivors will have at least one chronic or long-term side effect from their cancer therapy. Some of these late side effects may be serious or life threatening.

 

  • Supportive care can help improve quality of life for everyone throughout the cancer experience.

These statistics bring the realization of childhood cancer to the forefront.  I hope to bring my CHILDHOOD CANCER AWARENESS Blog series to a more personal level by interviewing young cancer champions, family members, childhood cancer charity organizers and childhood cancer medical professionals; People who “walk the walk” everyday!  I know,  through meeting these amazing individuals, that “Walking a mile in their shoes” is no easy feat!

Keep tuned in,

Theresa

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Wearing my Teen Ontario East Crown and sash

My journey as Miss Teenage Eastern Ontario began 14 months ago when I was crowned Miss Teen Ontario East 2014 at the annual Teen Ontario East Pageant.  I was honoured to hold the title for a year and became very involved with the Organization and our charity platform; Childhood Cancer Awareness.  Throughout my reign, I attended over 40 events and volunteered with a variety of charities.  All of the events were special but the most poignant event was Light Parliament Gold last September when I lead the parade of Childhood Cancer survivors and their families down to Parliament Hill in Ottawa and participated in the ceremony to light the Peace Tower GOLD for Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.

 

Leading the Parade of Childhood Cancer Champions to Parliament Hill

 

It was an emotional evening; inspiring, bittersweet, sad, but mostly the evening motivated me to do all I can to create awareness of, and raise funds for, Childhood Cancer.

Parliament Lit GOLD for Childhood Cancer Awareness Month

The Teen Ontario East Pageant organization has been dubbed the “pageant with a purpose” because it is a not-for-profit organization consisting of ALL volunteers who work tireless hours throughout the year hosting fund raising and awareness events for Childhood cancer.  Their main event is, of course, the annual pageant held every April.  The production is a sell out every year and proceeds from the pageant and other fund raising events are donated to various childhood cancer charities.  It is a unique pageant experience open to all teenage girls who reside within the Eastern Ontario Region.  Not only do we have the opportunity to participate in a pageant and an incredible production, but we also have the opportunity to be educated on Childhood Cancer, the charities that support it and the effects it has on the brave young heroes stricken with the disease.

Crowning my successor Miss Teen Ontario East 2015 Kathleen Barr

Miss Teen Ontario East holds her title for one year, and then after crowning her successor, she takes on the title of Miss Teenage Eastern Ontario and represents the pageant organization at the Miss Teenage Canada Pageant.  On April 12, 2015, I crowned the beautiful Kathleen Barr Miss Teen Ontario East 2015 and I was crowned with the Miss Teenage Eastern Ontario 2015 title.  I have been continuing my appearances as Miss Teenage Eastern Ontario 2015 and look forward to expanding my charity involvement to include the Free The Children Charity;  the official charity of Miss Teenage Canada.

I have been so fortunate to have had the experience of holding the title of Miss Teen Ontario East 2014 and now I am proud to be representing my “home pageant” at the national level.

I have often been asked about the stigma associated to pageants and I can only reference my pageant experience so my answer is always the same; “I have gained life experiences and volunteer opportunities through my association to the Teen Ontario East Pageant and now with Miss Teenage Canada pageant and I support and encourage young ladies to participate.  Pageants have given me the opportunity to expand my horizons, polish my public relations skills and have enriched my life through the people that I have met”

I am proud to be a ‘PAGEANT GIRL!’

 

 

 

 

 

 

Keep tuned in,

Theresa

Written by: Theresa Tagged with:, , , , , ,
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