Jumping on the monkey bars in the playground, running around chasing bubbles and butterflies, catching fireflies, splashing in the water park or attending sports camp are normal things for kids to do in the summer.  A kid’s life is all about fun and adventure, or it should be!  Unfortunately, for the approximately 880 children that are diagnosed with cancer in Canada every year, their summers are very different.  They fight the nausea associated with chemotherapy treatments, the anxiety and fatigue associated with radiation and the numerous side effects of their cancer diagnosis and ultimate treatment protocols!

I have become a strong advocate for CHILDHOOD CANCER AWARENESS and I have had my eyes opened over the past two years as to just what these amazing cancer champions go through just to survive!  Participating in the Miss Teenage Canada Pageant has allowed me the opportunity to bring my charity platform to the national level.  I want to educate my readers on the severity of a childhood cancer diagnosis and to share some stories of heroic champions who have had to deal with immeasurable challenges in their short lives.

Did you know that approximately 880 Canadian children will be diagnosed with a form of childhood cancer this year?  I certainly didn’t.  Like any other teenager, I thought I had problems when something didn’t go right at school or when I got excluded from a social event.  I now know that those are NOT problems!  Dealing with a cancer diagnosis is!

No one knows why a child gets cancer.  There are no specific studies to determine risk factors or to outline what child may be susceptible.  It just happens and when it does, it is devastating to the child, their families and their friends.  Life for that child and their loved ones changes forever.  Childhood memories revolve around treatment, hospitals, doctors and nurses.

A diagnosis of cancer, no matter what the type means each child and family are assigned to a team of medical professionals to administer their treatment.  Each treatment is called a protocol and each one varies depending on the type of cancer, the age of the child, the stage of the cancer and the clinical trials associated with the cancer type.

We are fortunate in Canada that treatment for Childhood Cancer is available at 17 pediatric centres across the country, the closest to me being CHEO (Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario).  Most children are commonly treated with a protocol that includes chemotherapy, radiation and most times at least one major surgery.

Thanks to research and more concise treatment protocols, advances in treatment have resulted in the statistic that over 82% of children will survive at least 5 years after diagnosis.  This is a major increase compared to the previously recorded 71% in 1987.

Treatments are long, painful and can result in significant side effects that will continue to affect the children as they age.  Approximately two-thirds of childhood cancer survivors will experience mild to serious long term effects that may include issues with their heart, growth, kidney, neurocognitive abilities and their ability to have children later in life.

Hearing the stories and meeting childhood cancer champions through my host pageant; the Teen Ontario East Pageant has changed my perspective on life and has opened my eyes to the struggles of others.

Paige; Childhood Brain Cancer Survivor and Our Teen Ontario East inspiration

Over the next few weeks I will be using my blog to raise awareness for childhood cancer in hopes that even one person will decide to donate to a childhood cancer charity.  If my blog results in one more donor or one more volunteer offering to assist a childhood cancer charity event then I have made a difference.  Kids shouldn’t have to suffer through a cancer diagnosis!  Their lives SHOULD be all about playgrounds, laughter and fun!

I proudly wear my GOLD RIBBON Awareness pin in support of all of the young heroes who fight childhood cancer every day!  They are my inspiration!

This beautiful young champion is Tyra!  Please visit my blog again to read Tyra’s when I share her challenging cancer journey.

Champion Tyra at her Grade 8 Graduation this past June

 

 

 

Alexa, Miss Teenage Eastern Ontario

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“It’s impossible,” said Pride

“It’s risky,” said Experience

“It’s pointless,” said Reason

“Give it a try,” whispered The Heart!

 

I listened to my heart and here I am!  My name is Alexa and I am proud to be representing the gorgeous region of Eastern Ontario.

My hometown of Eganville (Photo credit: Off The Grid Productions)

My hometown, Eganville, is set near the heart of the Ottawa Valley on the Bonnechere River and is home to 1,500 residents.  Our area boasts that we have scenic spots for miles, water front to be envied by all, tourist attractions like our famous Bonnechere Caves but we are most proud to be the home of Canadian Olympic 800m sensation; Melissa Bishop!  The area is engulfed in red during the Summer Olympics and Go Melissa Go signs are a prominent fixture on everyone’s lawn.

Eganville’s pride and joy, OLYMPIAN MELISSA BISHOP (Photo credit Team Canada)

I live on a small lake just outside of the town.  Living on the lake definitely has its perks.  My family enjoys boating, swimming, tubing and of course I have been known to catch a fish or two!  It is a wonderful place to call home and certainly provides hours of outdoor entertainment when friends and family are around.

 

 

“Family isn’t an important thing, it’s everything!”

 

Our family may not fit the description of what a “standard” family would be but we work in our own unique way.  I am very fortunate to have an amazing older sister; Mackenzie who is always there to support me in everything I do.

My amazing Mom

 

I am extremely fortunate to have an amazing mom who encourages me to follow my dreams and is there to lend a hand or cheer me on through all of my endeavors.

 

 

 

My dad was re-married last year at the local park in the centre of Eganville and both Kenz and I were proud to be part of his day.

My Dad and sister MacKenzie

 

 

 

We are unique but we work!

 

 

“Learn to Live” is the motto at Opeongo High school where I am now a proud senior!  A proud Opeongo Wildcat, I am also a member of the Opeongo Athletic Association assisting in running sporting events, extracurricular activities and providing leadership to the younger student athletes.  Myself, I participate in a wide variety of sports including volleyball, soccer, track and field, badminton and basketball.  Opeongo is well known for our competitive basketball teams and one of my most memorable high school moments was last season when our basketball team qualified second at EOSSAA.  My favourite days of the school year are when we host our intramural sports day tournaments highlighting ball hockey, ultimate Frisbee and speedball!

Intramural Sports Day

 

I love to try all sports but my passion is soccer!  I started playing soccer when I was eleven years old and have worked very hard to progress my skills.  My parents and coaches encouraged me to attend some development camps and I was invited to train and play with a regional team in West Ottawa.  Today, I am still competing with an older team at the West Ottawa Soccer Club and it has given me the opportunity to meet team mates from a variety of backgrounds and personal stories.  We are all different individuals but with a common goal; to compete at our highest level in a sport that we love!  Soccer is definitely a passion of mine and one day I will never forget is the day that the women’s FIFA World Cup came to Ottawa and I got the chance to watch Alex Morgan, my inspiration take the field!

 

Volunteering and giving back to my community has always been an important part of my life.

For the past seven years my family have been volunteers for the IAMALIVE dog rescue foundation located just outside of Ottawa.  We take in stray dogs, teach them, train them and love them until we can find them a forever home.  It makes your heart happy when you rescue a dog and then help them live the life that they deserve.  The hardest part is then giving them up for adoption which is why we have had three “failed fosters!”  Ultimately we fell in love with the dogs we were fostering and adopted them into our family!

 

With the reigning Miss Teen Ontario East 2018 Emma Jeapes

Over the past couple of years I have expanded my charity and volunteer work thanks to my involvement with the Teen Ontario East Pageant organization; a not for profit pageant group that raises funds and creates awareness for Childhood Cancer.  I have been fortunate to have been a representative with the pageant and have attended a variety of events and met some amazing young cancer champions.  It is a life-changing experience seeing what a child with cancer endures on a daily basis just to survive.  I hope you will keep following my blog as I introduce my charity platform;  PROMOTING CHILDHOOD CANCER AWARENESS.

I am so proud to be representing the Eastern Ontario Region at this year’s Miss Teenage Canada Pageant!  Please follow my blog to learn more about me, my region, my charity platform and to get an insight into my preparations for the national pageant!

 

 

Alexa

 

 

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As I prepare for the final competition of the Miss Teenage Canada Pageant, I wanted to take a final opportunity to post about my Platform; Childhood Cancer Awareness.

I don’t know if we can truly appreciate what these amazing young warriors and their families go through because we haven’t walked the walk.  We can’t fathom what it is like to watch a young child struggle to fight the dreaded disease and know that there is nothing physically that we can do to lessen their pain and suffering.  It is heartbreaking and just unfair.

I know that I am only one person and that I can’t take away the circumstances that surround these amazing kids and their families but I do have the ability to raise awareness on their behalf.  Do you know that only 4% of the funds raised for cancer research are donated to address childhood cancers?  This is just not acceptable.

Even with only 4% of all cancer research funding devoted to childhood cancers, great strides have been made in the battle against childhood cancer. Forty years ago, survival rates were less than 60%. Today, over 82% of children survive.

Imagine what we could do with more research funding.

It is my hope that by bringing the Childhood Cancer Awareness platform to the national level through the Miss Teenage Canada Pageant, my efforts may reach out to ONE more person who will see their challenges and choose to donate to one of the many charities that support childhood cancer champions and their families.  If my blog awareness campaign results in even $1.00 being donated that wouldn’t have been before, then I have made a difference in a small but impacting way.  You can never truly appreciate what heroes like Paige, Jill , Annie, Nathan, Jordan, Connor, Chris, Bryce, Kim, Chloe (the list goes on) go through and I hope you never find out, but we can do our best to help other kids being diagnosed so that their journeys will have a promising future.

Cancer Champions: Jessica, Jill, Paige Nathan, Annie

My life has changed over the past 16 months.  I have learned amazing life lessons from the young cancer champions that I have met and I have a new appreciation for the gift of life.  I have seen them push through their treatments with determination and a smile on their face.  I have played and interacted with them while at charity events and I have been inspired listening to many of them speak about their journeys at public functions.  I think one of the most impacting things I have ever experienced was listening to Paige speak and show her courage bead necklace that catalogues her cancer journey in coloured beads.  To have a visual representation of her journey was one of the most heartbreaking yet inspirational moments I have ever witnessed.  I have had the opportunity to hear  Paige speak on several occasions and her favourite quote gets me every time because I know she truly lives her life according to her quote:     “Cherish your memories, Dream your tomorrows, but always LIVE your todays!

1/2 of Paige’s Courage Bead necklace

I will continue with my Childhood Cancer Awareness campaign for the duration of my reign which concludes in April 2018 but I will continue to be an advocate for childhood cancer awareness as I go forward in life.  I want to do what I can to make a difference!

So, in conclusion, I want to personally THANK all of the incredible childhood cancer champions that I have met and their families for changing my life and for making me really appreciate the gifts we are given; to never take anything for granted; to always make time to volunteer for something you are passionate about because you will receive much more than you give; to never give up when a task seems to difficult and most of all to always be respectful and grateful for the important people in your life because they may not always be there!

I will always remain a passionate GOLD RIBBON advocate!

GO GOLD!

Sophia

 

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Dear Diary:

I can’t believe it is Day 4 already.  It really is true that “TIME FLIES WHEN YOU ARE HAVING FUN!”

Today we were up bright and early and after a lovely breakfast, were off to the Clarington Family Outdoor Adventure Park.  Oh and did I mention that Olivia and I were interviewed on City TV!  It was a great opportunity to promote the Clarington Family Outdoor Adventure Park  that was hosting us for the morning.  IMPORTANT NOTE:  Do not wear a white skirt to a zoo!  Good thing I had a Tide stick in my bag.  One of the goats decided he should jump on me and although I loved the affectionate attention, his feet were not very clean!

Loved getting up close and personal!

 

After the Adventure Park we went to Bluffers Park.  The park and beach is stunning!  It’s located at the base of the Scarborough Bluff and is a gorgeous setting to spend the afternoon.  Located on Lake Ontario it has a scenic beach area and lots of hiking trails.  Eight of us were talked into trying paddle boarding.  What a great experience, although no one warned me that Lake Ontario is very cold!

 

After spending time in the great outdoors, we then headed off to the Yorkdale Mall for some serious retail therapy at NINE WEST!  Nine West not only sponsored our gorgeous shoes for the pageant but also gifted each of us with a $50.00 gift certificate to purchase additional shoes, purses or sunglasses.  Not only did we get the gift certificate but we also got a discount as well!  Did I mention I LOVE SHOES!

I LOVE SHOE SHOPPING at NINE WEST!

After changing we headed off to Memories of Japan for a wonderful meal!  Dinner was an entertaining affair with lots of joke sharing, laughs and incredible food!

All ready for a beautiful dinner at Memories of Japan

I am trying to capture the essence of my Teenage Canada Pageant weekend journey but it is difficult to put into words what an incredible few days this has been.  New experiences, new places and wonderful new friends!

Well Diary, let’s see what tomorrow brings!

Sophia

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Dear Diary:

What an experience this is!  I am having so much fun!

All ready for my Photo Shoot

Tuesday was a very busy day.  We had our hair and makeup done and then it was on to do Media interviews, official photo shoots and our pageant interviews with the Judges.  It was an incredible day!  For those skeptics who say that pageants are a negative experience and that they don’t provide a positive environment for young women, I can honestly say, THEY ARE WRONG!  The interview experience and the confidence you gain doing public speaking, are life skills that all of us will use as we go forward into our chosen careers.

Its time for my official Interview with the Pageant Judges

Photo shoots, interviews and media interviews took us well into the early evening and then it was on to rehearsals!  We met with Shawn Cuffy the MTC choreographer and started to learn dance numbers and stage direction.  It was a wonderful day and we were feet-weary when we headed up to our rooms for the night.  I did some blogging and then lights out finished off the day!

Wednesday morning it was up and off to get some physical activity.  We headed off to the Vaughn Sportsplex and played volleyball soccer and bubble soccer.  Now that was an experience!  So much fun!  After a nutritious lunch from SUBWAY picnic style at the Sports complex it was back to the hall to continue rehearsals for the afternoon.

Ready for Dinner

We dressed for dinner and headed off to Dave and Busters where we had a lovely dinner and the hit the arcade!

A delicious dinner at Dave & Busters

 

Heading into the Midway at Dave & Busters

What a blast!  I played all kinds of games, had an aggressive dance off and tested my driving skills.  It was loud and I loved every minute of the evening.

 

 

 

 

 

 

GUITAR JAM

DANCE OFF!

These last two days have been incredibly busy but I wouldn’t have wanted to miss a thing!  This has certainly been the experience of a lifetime!

Let’s see what tomorrow brings!

 

Sophia

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I am still finding it surreal that I am actually here representing Eastern Ontario at the 2017 Miss Teenage Canada Pageant.

I arrived Monday a bit nervous but SO EXCITED!  After registering  we were assigned our rooms and our roommates.  I got the BEST roommate; Lindsey from Northern Nova Scotia.  We were immediate friends!

With my Beautiful roommate Lindsey from Northern Nova Scotia 

We settled in and then it was off to the Welcome Party!  It has begun! The party was hosted by some of the wonderful Sponsors of the Miss Teenage Canada Pageant.  The fifty seven of us had a great time, met some amazing sponsors and had the opportunity to connect each other and have some fun!

Opening Night Party. Photo credit; Darren Lee The Celebrity Photographer

The Sponsors included Hashtagio the social media aggregator that was fetching pictures from Instagram all night.

Hashtagio social media aggregator was set up to show the Instagram feed for #MTC2017. All the best shots from the evening’s event were collected and displayed on the website in a special Go Behind the Scenes via Instagram page.  The unique service is co-sponsored by Standard Telecom business phone networks and all week long we are encouraged to use our cell phones and mobile devices to post our best moments using the #MTC2017 hashtag.

 

Dahlia Desouza from UptotheTime Watches was at the party displaying their beautiful watches for every occasion.  Each delegate was given the opportunity to choose their favourite watch and the delegate crowned Miss Teenage Canada 2017 will receive her chosen watch as a gift from UptotheTime.

The Wandering Minstrel Music School in Mississauga was at the party  running a Karaoke challenge.  Instagram #MTCSongSolo challenge.

 

Delegates were invited to select one of five instruments and record a musical performance on Instagram using the #MTCsongselo hashtag. The prize for the video with the most likes will WIN a new cordless microphone!

Super Adorbs jewellery and fashion accessories will accentuate any outfit no matter your style or occasion. Headquartered here in Toronto, the company sells online all across Canada; Superadorbs is built with feminine style for individual expression.

Super Adorbs jewellery gave us all cute little gift bags.  I love my Super Adorbs headband.

NINE WEST sponsored our gorgeous shoes for the Miss Teenage Canada pageant.  I LOVE Nine West shoes!  I am so excited to model them on the Miss Teenage Canada stage.

I LOVE my NINE WEST Shoes. Thank you NINE WEST

Golden Glamour Goddess is the official spray tan sponsor of the Miss Teenage Canada Pageant.  Delegates are given the opportunity to book a spray tan during pageant week by the wonderful tanning specialists at Golden Glamour Goddess.

Golden Glamour Goddess

STREET CHIC the sponsor of the Street Chic Fashion blog was there.  That was definitely the highlight of my preparations for the Miss Teenage Canada Pageant 2017.  I love the concept and the unique way to highlight the wonderful merchants in our individual areas.

Thank you Street Chic for hosting our Street Chic Fashion Blogs

Rob Campbell (MTC Social Media specialist) himself was running the Archer Dental booth and giving away handy little packages of  dental supplies.  What a wonderful sponsorship from Archer Dental.  Check out their webpage and VOTE Archer Dental for the NOW Magazine Best Toronto Dentist Award!

We were treated to delicious pizza from PIZZA VILLE and savoured our sweet tooth with a decadent cake officially cut my the reigning Miss Teenage Canada 2016 Samantha Pierre.  Samantha has been an exceptional titleholder for the Miss Teenage Canada organization placing  1st Runner Up to Miss Teen Universe and 1st Runner Up to Miss Teenager; an outstanding accomplishment!

Miss Teenage Canada 2017 Samantha Pierre cutting the cake

It was a wonderful evening and a fantastic start to my Miss Teenage Canada pageant 2017 journey!

Stay tuned,

Sophia

 

 

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  1. VOTING IS NOW OPEN ONLINE FOR MISS TEENAGE CANADA 

The following are the instructions to cast your VOTE for me for MISS TEENAGE CANADA PEOPLE’S CHOICE AWARD.

 

If this is your first time voting for Miss Teenage Canada then

Go to www.missteenagecanada.com
                                                             Sign up for VIP access
Input the information and REGISTER

You will receive a confirmation e-mail (check your junk mail if it doesn’t show up in your IN BOX)

Once you are REGISTERED, you can vote!  Clicking the PINK VOTE button will direct you to my FINALISTS Page.  Simply input your e-mail address in the vote box (bottom right hand corner of the pate).   CLICK VOTE

CLICK the VOTE BUTTON above to go directly to my Page

Or Follow these directions:

Go to www.missteenagecanada.com
Select FINALISTS PAGE
Find me — SOPHIA (in the ONTARIO SECTION)
Click on DETAILS
At the bottom right hand side of the page you will see the box to input your e-mail
CLICK VOTE

TELL ALL OF YOUR FRIENDS AND CONTACTS TO REGISTER AND VOTE AS WELL! The delegate with the most votes will be fasted tracked into the TOP 20.

Thank you so much!

Happy Voting!

Sophia

 

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The Day has Arrived!  Thanks for helping me get here!

I spent last night relaxing and enjoying some “ME TIME” before heading off to Toronto.

Thanks Nolan Murphy for capturing this moment

This morning I woke up so excited!  The day is finally here!  I’m packed up,  sat on the suitcase and managed to get it closed complete with outfits, shoes, makeup, essentials and treats.  Loading up the car was a challenge but we managed to get everything in and my Mom and I headed for Toronto.

Mom and I are packed up and ready to go!

Before I get busy with pageant week activities, I wanted to take some time to send some very special THANK YOUs to those folks who have helped me get here.

Some of my MTOE Family at my Good Luck Send off party

First and foremost, thanks to my Teen Ontario East Family;  the wonderful ladies at the helm of the pageant who have mentored me and shown me the true meaning of volunteering with a passion (all while having a blast), the current reigning Miss Teen Ontario East Danika and First runner Up Megan and Second Runner Up Alexa for your support, my Teen Ontario East Sisterhood for always being there to give me advice and assistance particularly my predecessors the gorgeous Kathleen Barr, Miss Teenage Eastern Ontario 2016.  Kat, I love you and appreciate all that you have done for me not only to prepare for this week but also throughout the past 16 months.  I would also like to thank the many followers of our Teen Ontario East pageant for being so supportive of everything that our Pageant stands for and thank you to everyone who came out to the Good Luck Send Off Drop In hosted by my Teen Ontario East family on Thursday night!  I was truly touched!

Kathleen Barr I will try and do you proud!

Thank you to the wonderful group of MTOE Pageant judges who selected me for the title of Miss Teen Ontario East 2016 and have provided me with this opportunity of a lifetime.  My life has been so enriched by my experience as a regional titleholder and a voice for childhood cancer awareness.

Some of my inspirational Childhood Cancer Champions

A special thank you to the amazing young childhood cancer champions that I have met, who have shared their courageous stories with me and have allowed me to share them with others over the past 16 months.  You have all touched my life in ways that you will never really know.  I have adapted your “Live everyday like it’s your last” philosophy and I truly appreciate the gift of life.  I will never take it for granted.  You have all truly changed my life.  And thank you for the wonderful messages of good luck from all of you.  I am truly blessed to have you all in my life.

To the gorgeous Angeline MacDonald of Bells and Bows Bridal Centre, thank you for assisting me with my gown selection.  I absolutely LOVE my Bells and Bows gown and can’t wait to wear it on stage.

To the sponsors of the Miss Teen Ontario East Pageant, thank you for supporting my home pageant organization and giving me this fabulous opportunity to represent our region at the national level.

To my friends, thank you for being my constant cheerleaders.  I love you all.

Last but certainly not least, thank you to my wonderful family.  I would not be here if it wasn’t for all of you.  Thank you for sacrificing our one car (shared by all of us and Mom) so that I could attend my events and truly dedicate my time to my Miss Teenage Eastern Ontario responsibilities but most of all thank you for always being there for me, just because you love me.

My wonderful family

I love you all and I will do my best to do you proud!

My adventure to the Miss Teenage Canada Pageant has been a GROUP EFFORT for sure.  I love you all and now it’s time to put on my heels and get my “SPARKLE ON”.

I’m here! Let the week BEGIN!

Stay tuned,

Sophia

Miss Teenage Eastern Ontario

 

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Annie – A loving soul

“I don’t wanna be someone who walks away so easily
I’m here to stay and make the difference that I can make
Our differences they do a lot to teach us how to use
The tools and gifts we got yeah, we got a lot at stake
And in the end, you’re still my friend at least we did intend
For us to work we didn’t break, we didn’t burn
We had to learn how to bend without the world caving in
I had to learn what I’ve got, and what I’m not
And who I am “        The world according to Annie 

Can you imagine being 4 years old and being diagnosed with cancer?  Can you imagine if you are the parents of that child?

It is truly heart-wrenching and overwhelming when I learned the stories of some of the kids that I have met over the past couple of years with my Childhood Cancer volunteer activities.  One beautiful soul that I met through the Teen Ontario East Pageant is Annie, a childhood cancer survivor of Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia.  Annie was that 4 year old child who’s childhood life changed with her cancer diagnosis.

Annie (front left) beside me in the Teen Ontario East Pageant’s Tribute to Childhood Cancer Champions

Annie’s parents were concerned when she didn’t have the energy that a 4 year old would normally have and she didn’t seem to have much of an appetite.  A trip to CHEO’s emergency department and some bloodwork indicated Annie had leukemia; Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (better known as A.L.L.)

Annie exhibited the common signs of Childhood A.L.L.  According to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of Canada some of the other signs and symptoms are as follows;

  • Fever
  • Easy bruising or bleeding.
  • Petechiae (flat, pinpoint-like dark red spots under the skin caused by bleeding)
  • Bone and/or joint pain
  • Painless lumps in the neck, underarm, stomach or groin area
  • Pain or feeling of fullness below the ribs.
  • Weakness, feeling tired, or looking pale.
  • Loss of appetite
  • Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL) is the most common type of the childhood cancers. It is a cancer of the blood and bone marrow and will worsen quickly if not treated immediately.

Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia is the most common type of childhood cancer and occurs when a child’s bone marrow makes too many immature lymphocytes (a type of white blood cells).  It can affect red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets.  Acute lymphoblastic leukemia invades the blood and can spread throughout the body to other organs, such as the liver, spleen and lymph nodes.  It does not normally produce tumors like other types of cancer but it is an acute type of leukemia, which means it can progress quickly.

According to research published by the Lymphoma and Leukemia Society Certain factors affect prognosis (chance of recovery) and treatment options.

The prognosis (chance of recovery) depends on:

  • How quickly and how low the leukemia cell count drops after the first month of treatment.
  • Age at the time of diagnosis, gender, race, and ethnic background.
  • The number of white blood cells in the blood at the time of diagnosis.
  • Whether the leukemia cells began from B lymphocytes or T lymphocytes.
  • Whether there are certain changes in the chromosomes or genes of the lymphocytes with cancer.
  • Whether the child has Down syndrome.
  • Whether leukemia cells are found in the cerebrospinal fluid.
  • The child’s weight at the time of diagnosis and during treatment.

Treatment options depend on:

  • Whether the leukemia cells began from B lymphocytes or T lymphocytes.
  • Whether the child has standard-risk, high-risk, or very high–risk ALL.
  • The age of the child at the time of diagnosis.
  • Whether there are certain changes in the chromosomes of lymphocytes, such as the Philadelphia chromosome.
  • Whether the child was treated with steroids before the start of induction therapy.
  • How quickly and how low the leukemia cell count drops during treatment.

Because of acute lymphoblastic leukemia’s (A.L.L.’s) rapid growth, most patients need to start chemotherapy soon after diagnosis. During chemotherapy, Annie was  given potent drugs that had to be toxic enough to damage or kill leukemic cells. At the same time, these aggressive drugs  can take aim at normal cells and cause side effects.

Cancer protocols (treatment plans) can vary for each child depending on the stage of their cancer and their age.  Most A.L.L. childhood protocols will include high-dose chemotherapy followed by a stem cell transplant.  In Annie’s case, she underwent two and a half years of high-dose chemotherapy and became a “frequent flyer” at the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario.  Imagine two and a half years of chemotherapy at the age of 4!  That is not the way a child is supposed to spend their kindergarten years!

Annie with Molly Penny, therapeutic Clown at CHEO

Despite what she was going through, one of the moms that I spoke with who was in the hospital with her daughter when Annie was there said you would never see Annie without her uplifting smile.  She would dress up and clown with Molly Penny the therapeutic clown at CHEO and would hand out funny stickers to the other kids who were just a sick as she was.  Annie fought through her intense and lengthy chemotherapy protocol and then immediately got involved in several charity events to benefit CHEO her home away from home.

I think that is what amazes me most about the cancer champions that I have had the privilege to meet; their passion for giving back and making a difference.  Annie became very active in the CHEO community fund raising, acting as a spokesperson and representative at several fund raising events.

Annie’s passion for making a difference and her determination to do something to help others were key factors in her being chosen as the CHEO Champion.

Children’s Miracle Network Champions presented by Walmart Canada is an awareness program designed to educate communities on the life-saving work being done at member hospitals and the role that Children’s Miracle Network plays in supporting them. Each year, Children’s Miracle Network hospitals identify a remarkable child to serve as their Champion. As ambassadors, these patients represent more than two million children and youth treated at Children’s Miracle Network member hospitals each year in Canada. “

A young Annie honoured as CHEO Champion

As CHEO Champion, Annie represented CHEO at an international gathering of young champions at Disney in Orlando, Florida.

Annie is now a beautiful young woman who has recently completed her first year of university.  I cannot express enough how in awe I am of these amazing champions.  Young cancer survivors like Annie who took on this incredible battle and managed to get through it and turn the devastation into a motivating factor to make a difference.

Annie’s favourite quote from Patch Adams

I am inspired everyday,

Sophia

 

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