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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MY AFTERNOON as a MODEL

What an experience this has been and I haven’t even headed to Toronto for pageant week yet!

When I am not working, I am in full “pageant prep mode!” I have been shopping, fund raising, getting wardrobe selections made, organizing appointments, blogging and rehearsing my song for the talent competition.  In the midst of all of this “organized” and exciting chaos I had the opportunity to have a spectacular photo shoot with Kelly Cobus Photography at the scenic and historical Bonnechere Caves.

What a great way to spend the afternoon!  Kelly and Aaron were so wonderful to work with!  Their eye for photography is exceptional and they had me on the rocks, in the rocks, on the water and in the water!  I am still surprised I didn’t end up face first in the water but I managed to stay relatively dry.  It was so much fun!  I was so thrilled with the photos, I wanted to share them.  Photo credit for all of the following photos belong to Kelly Cobus Photography.

ON THE ROCKS Photo credit Kelly Cobus Photography

ON THE ROCKS IN THE WATER Photo credit Kelly Cobus Photography

IN THE ROCKS Photo Credit Kelly Cobus Photography

IN THE WATER ON THE ROCKS Photo Credit Kelly Cobus Photography

ON THE ROCKS IN THE WATER Photo Credit Kelly Cobus Photography

ON THE ROCKS Photo Credit Kelly Cobus Photography

ON THE ROCKS OVER THE WATER Photo Credit Kelly Cobus Photography

ON THE ROCKS BESIDE THE WATER Photo Credit Kelly Cobus Photography

IN THE WATER. Photo Credit Kelly Cobus Photography

For anyone who is looking for an exceptional photographer and wants to work with a lovely and engaging couple, please contact Aaron and Kelly at Kelly Cobus Photography.  You will NOT be disappointed.

Pose and Smile,

Sophia

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The Day RAGLAN Street in Renfrew went STREET CHIC!

What an amazing Blog Assignment!  I had an incredible time coordinating and executing this STREET CHIC Blog post.  My only problem was cutting the content and the pictures to make the post space efficient.  I had over 300 photos to choose from thanks to my volunteer amateur photographer, Doug.

Our directive was to pick a street, visit the merchants, choose some eye-catching outfits and have customers and/or friends model the fashions to incorporate the STREET CHIC fashion sense.

So, take one historical street in small town Eastern Ontario, add a selection of unique boutiques offering a variety of fashion choices, compliment it with a selection of wonderful women from various generations and you have a snapshot of Fashion in the Valley!

Raglan Street in Renfrew, Ontario will provide you with just that mix!  The street itself has been in existence since the early 1800s and although obviously transformed over the decades it remains the hub for exceptional fashion in the Valley.  The architectural structures can date back to the late 1800s and today’s merchants have enhanced the historical features and have captured the essence of yesteryear in their store facades.  Strolling down Raglan Street (main street Renfrew) is a lovely way to spend an afternoon and certainly personifies STREET CHIC in the fashions that can be found in this hidden Valley gem!

CLICK on the PHOTO BELOW to visit my official STREET CHIC Blog Submission!  Like it and Share it if you would.  It will promote the wonderful and unique Fashion forward retailers in Renfrew, Ontario!

I am so proud of this piece and so appreciative to my models (some who needed a bit of encouragement to get in front of the camera) and to the merchants who were warm, accommodating and excited to participate.

My choice to choose everyday customers and clients of my Raglan Street merchants was to emphasize that you can be STREET CHIC no matter what your age!

I would also like to highlight STERLINGS NO FRILL JOE FRESH in Renfrew.  Although not located on Raglan Street they were excited to welcome us into their store and allowed Abby and I to model some fun outfits on their Street!

The entire day was a blast!  Thank you to STREET CHIC for promoting this activity for Miss Teenage Canada and to the wonderful people of Renfrew who always make everyone feel welcome and part of the family!

I am now STREET CHIC!

Sophia,  Miss Teenage Eastern Ontario

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What do you know about Childhood Cancer?

What do you know about what the kids diagnosed go through just to survive?

Are you aware of the various types of childhood cancers and which ones are the most common?

If you are anything like I was two years ago, you likely never thought about childhood cancer other than when you would see a bald child at the shopping centre or on the TV at an event of some kind.  Unless childhood cancer affects someone in your family or in your close circle of friends, we tend to not focus on it at all.

Paige; Childhood Brain Cancer Survivor

My life changed in 2016 when I was introduced to the Childhood Cancer Awareness campaign primed by the Teen Ontario East Pageant.  My eyes and heart were opened to an incredible group of young cancer champions that I met throughout my reign as Miss Teen Ontario East 2016 and now as Miss Teenage Eastern Ontario 2017.  The impact that their stories and their struggles made on me has been life-changing.  I remember sitting as a delegate in the 2016 Miss Teen Ontario East Pageant and listening to Paige’s story, an extraordinary young woman who battled brain cancer at the age of 8 and getting completely overwhelmed with her Courage Bead Necklace; a special representation of her cancer journey visualized in specific coloured beads that represented all of the facets of her cancer journey.

1/2 of Paige’s Courage Bead necklace

It was something I will never forget.  It is an impacting visual presentation of what Paige went through over her long journey battling through her cancer diagnosis.  Paige’s final message that day was “Cherish your yesterdays, Dream your tomorrows, but ALWAYS LIVE your TODAYS!”  I will never forget that message.

I mentioned in my initial Charity Platform post that I want to focus on introducing my readers to some different childhood cancer diagnosis and how that specific cancer and treatment affected the life of the child.

The first childhood cancer that I would like to highlight is BRAIN CANCER.

Some brief statistics provided by The Canadian Cancer Society:

Childhood cancer accounts for less than 1% of all new cancer cases in Canada.

The 3 types of cancer that account for the majority of new cancer cases in children 0–14 years of age in Canada are:

  • leukemia – 32%
  • brain and central nervous system – 19%
  • lymphomas – 11%

The 3 types of cancer that account for the majority of cancer death in children 0–14 years of age in Canada are:

  • brain and central nervous system – 34%
  • leukemia – 26%
  • neuroblastoma and other peripheral nervous cell tumors – 11%

“A brain tumor is a collection, or mass, of abnormal cells in the brain. Brain tumors can be cancerous or benign (noncancerous); however, any growth inside the skull, a restricted space, can cause problems.”

“Pediatric brain tumors are the most common form of solid tumors among children under the age of 15, and represent about 20% of all childhood cancers. Childhood tumors frequently appear in different locations and behave differently than brain tumors in adults. Treatment options vary and can be strongly influenced by the age of the child. Children with tumors may also have a much better prognosis than adults with a similar condition.”

  • A childhood brain or spinal cord tumor is a disease in which abnormal cells form in the tissues of the brain or spinal cord.
  • The brain controls many important body functions.
  • The spinal cord connects the brain with nerves in most parts of the body.
  • Brain and spinal cord tumors are a common type of childhood cancer.
  • The cause of most childhood brain and spinal cord tumors is unknown.
  • The signs and symptoms of childhood brain and spinal cord tumors are not the same in every child.
  • Tests that examine the brain and spinal cord are used to detect (find) childhood brain and spinal cord tumors.
  • Most childhood brain tumors are diagnosed and removed in surgery.
  • Some childhood brain and spinal cord tumors are diagnosed by imaging tests.
  • Certain factors affect prognosis (chance of recovery).

Together, the brain and spinal cord make up the central nervous system (CNS).

The brain controls many important body functions.

The brain has three major parts:

  • The cerebrum is the largest part of the brain. It is at the top of the head. The cerebrum controls thinking, learning, problem solving, emotions, speech, reading, writing, and voluntary movement.
  • The cerebellum is in the lower back of the brain (near the middle of the back of the head). It controls movement, balance, and posture.
  • The brain stem connects the brain to the spinal cord. It is in the lowest part of the brain (just above the back of the neck). The brain stem controls breathing, heart rate and the nerves and muscles used in seeing, hearing, walking, talking, and eating.

Brain and spinal cord tumors are a common type of childhood cancer.

The cause of most childhood brain and spinal cord tumors is unknown.

The signs and symptoms of childhood brain and spinal cord tumors are not the same in every child.

Signs and symptoms may be caused by childhood brain and spinal cord tumors or by other conditions, including cancer that has spread to the brain.  Brain Tumor Signs and Symptoms:

  • Morning headache or headache that goes away after vomiting
  • Frequent nausea and vomiting.
  • Vision, hearing, and speech problems.
  • Loss of balance and trouble walking.
  • Unusual sleepiness or change in activity level.
  • Unusual changes in personality or behavior.
  • Seizures

In Paige’s case, she experienced severe headaches, a pounding in her left ear (which she later found out was from a build-up of fluid on the brain), frequent vomiting, and loss of balance, no energy, and confusion.  She would do and say things that wouldn’t make any sense and would just sit down in the middle of a store when shopping to rest.  Not normal behavior for an 8 year old.

Paige on her chemotheraphy protocol

Paige’s parents took her to the family doctor who sent her to a neurologist.  The neurologist saw Paige, did some testing and then sent her immediately to the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario to have a CT scan to confirm his diagnosis.  Immediately after the CT scan, Paige was admitted into the Intensive Care Unit at CHEO and that day began what would be a very long journey through the world of a childhood cancer patient.  The very next day Paige had a 6 hour MRI to mark her head in preparation for a 14 hour brain surgery the following day.  Immediately following the surgery, the Neurosurgeon indicated to Paige’s family that the tumor was in fact malignant and they were then appointed to an oncology team to determine treatment options for Paige.

Like the tumors, the treatment options vary based on the type of tumor, the age of the patient and the grade of the tumor.  In Paige’s case, she was stage 4 with a highly aggressive tumor called MEDULLABLASTOMA.

Post 2nd surgery to insert a VP shunt to relieve fluid build up

  Medulloblastomas

Most CNS embryonal tumors are medullablastomas. Medulloblastomas are fast-growing tumors that form in brain cells in the cerebellum.  The cerebellum is at the lower back part of the brain between the cerebrum and the brain stem. The cerebellum controls movement, balance, and posture.

Children diagnosed with medullablastomas may have certain problems after surgery or radiation therapy such as changes in the ability to think, learn, and pay attention. Also, cerebellar mutism syndrome may occur after surgery. Signs of this syndrome include the following:

  • Delayed ability to speak.
  • Trouble swallowing and eating.
  • Loss of balance, trouble walking, and worsening handwriting.
  • Loss of muscle tone.
  • Mood swings and changes in personality.

Post-surgery, Paige was affected with cerebellar mutism syndrome and was unable to speak, swallow, walk or move her arms.  In addition to dealing with a cancer diagnosis, Paige also had to go through extensive physiotherapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy sessions to teach her brain how to do everything all over again.  It was a long, slow, painful and tiring process in addition to the sickness and fatigue that comes with high grade radiation and chemotherapy treatments.

Paige undergoing extensive therapy sessions to teach her brain to do everything over again.

Treatment Option Overview

Key Points

  • There are different types of treatment for children with brain and spinal cord tumors.
  • Children with brain or spinal cord tumors should have their treatment planned by a team of health care providers who are experts in treating childhood brain and spinal cord tumors.
  • Childhood brain and spinal cord tumors may cause signs or symptoms that begin before the cancer is diagnosed and continue for months or years.
  • Some cancer treatments cause side effects months or years after treatment has ended.
  • Three types of standard treatment are used:
    • Surgery
    • Radiation therapy
    • Chemotherapy
  • New types of treatment are being tested in clinical trials.
    • High-dose chemotherapy with stem cell transplant

Radiation therapy

Radiation therapy is a cancer treatment that uses high-energy x-rays or other types of radiation to kill cancer cells or keep them from growing. There are two types of radiation therapy:

  • External radiation therapy uses a machine outside the body to send radiation toward the cancer.
  • Internal radiation therapy uses a radioactive substance sealed in needles, seeds, wires, or catheters that are placed directly into or near the cancer.

·         Chemotherapy

Paige having chemotheraphy port-a-cath flushed

  • Chemotherapy is a cancer treatment that uses drugs to stop the growth of cancer cells, either by killing the cells or by stopping them from dividing. When chemotherapy is taken by mouth or injected into a vein or muscle, the drugs enter the bloodstream and can reach cancer cells throughout the body (systemic chemotherapy). When chemotherapy is placed directly in the cerebrospinal fluid, an organ, or a body cavity such as the abdomen, the drugs mainly affect cancer cells in those areas (regional chemotherapy). The way the chemotherapy is given depends on the type and stage of the cancer being treated.
  • Anticancer drugs given by mouth or vein to treat brain and spinal cord tumors cannot cross the blood-brain barrier and enter the fluid that surrounds the brain and spinal cord. Instead, an anticancer drug is injected into the fluid-filled space to kill cancer cells there. This is called intrathecal chemotherapy.

Paige’s cancer treatment plan (called a protocol)  consisted of 30 doses of high grade EXTERNAL radiation to the brain and the spine and a 56 week aggressive chemotherapy plan with 3 different types of chemotherapy drugs.  Paige had a port-a-cath ( a small device surgically implanted under the skin to feed the chemotherapy drugs through) inserted into her chest so she could get her chemotherapy drugs injected directly to the vein.  The chemotherapy drugs that Paige received caused significant side effects but were required in order to kill the cancer cells.  Bone pain, dry mouth, excessive nausea, hair loss and hearing loss were just a few of the side effects that plagued Paige during and after treatment.

“The radiation freaked me out because I couldn’t talk when I started so I didn’t know what was happening to me and I was put in a plastic mold that went from my head to my butt and I couldn’t move.  The only thing that got me through them was when my Mom would read Junie B Jones books to me over the intercom while I had the treatment.  It was funny because it actually got to be that the technicians were waiting for the end of the story every day when I would go.  I think they enjoyed the stories too!”  Paige said.

“The chemotherapy made me very sick and I lost all my hair right after I started treatment.  It gave a whole new meaning to “BAD HAIR DAY!”  I also had to be kept away from friends because the chemotherapy affected my immune system so I couldn’t go to school but I was lucky to have a great home school teacher.”

Always masked to go in public

Children with brain tumors should have their treatment planned by a team of health care providers who are experts in treating childhood brain tumors.

Treatment will be overseen by a pediatric oncologist, a doctor who specializes in treating children with cancer. The pediatric oncologist works with other health care providers who are experts in treating children with brain tumors and who specialize in certain areas of medicine. These may include the following specialists:

  • Pediatrician
  • Neurosurgeon
  • Neurologist.
  • Neuro-oncologist.
  • Neuropathologist.
  • Neuroradiologist.
  • Radiation oncologist.
  • Endocrinologist.
  • Psychologist.
  • Ophthalmologist.
  • Rehabilitation Specialist.
  • Social worker.
  • Nurse specialist.
  • Respirologist
  • Audiologist
  • Fertility specialist

In Paige’s case she had all of the above including speech, physio and occupational therapists who worked under the direction of the Rehabilitation specialist.  She told me it was her list of “ologists.”

I love her sense of humour!

Paige conquered her treatments with the same spirit and determination that she portrays in her life after cancer.  Paige is now 12 years post treatment and is now dealing with late side effects of the tumor and subsequent treatments that she endured.

Some cancer treatments cause side effects months or years after treatment has ended.

These are called late effects. Late effects of cancer treatment may include the following:

  • Physical problems.
  • Changes in mood, feelings, thinking, learning, or memory.
  • Fertility challenges
  • Secondary cancers (new types of cancer).

Paige having her testing for Central Apnea

Paige still has issues with her motor skills (she uses a walker or wheelchair), she still has some learning challenges, has paralysis in her left diaphragm, hearing loss in one ear, is quite short in height due to radiation to her growth gland and suffers from severe central apnea which has compromised her breathing significantly, but none of these challenges SLOW HER DOWN!

As soon as Paige could speak her first words, just 8 weeks after her original brain surgery, she was lobbying friends and family to start what would be an incredible fund raising charge for childhood cancer that she still champions today.  Paige is a strong advocate and motivational speaker for Childhood Cancer Awareness and has received various awards of recognition for her efforts including: National Youth Philanthropy Award, the Governor General Award for Youth Volunteering, United Way Community Builders Award, CAYFO Courage Award and was recognized as one of four Canadian Heroes of Hope by the Cancer Society in 2011.  Paige is truly an inspiration to everyone she meets and her sense of humor despite all she has gone through in her life is infectious.

Paige receiving the Ontario Medal of Honour for YOUTH VOLUNTEERS

I am very proud to call this remarkable BRAIN TUMOR survivor my friend!

“Cherish your Yesterdays, Dream your Tomorrows but LIVE your TODAYS!”

Forever inspired,

Sophia

Miss Teenage Eastern Ontario 2017

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Welcome to Barry’s Bay!

Welcome to the beautiful and picturesque Madawaska Valley!  I am so proud to call this gorgeous area home.  Located in the encompassing area of Renfrew County, the Madawaska Valley is comprised of three small towns; Combermere, Wilno and my home town of Barry’s Bay.  The region is an outdoorsperson’s playground, rich with an abundance of lakes, rivers, trails, wildlife and some of the friendliest people you will ever meet.

Other than the captivating scenery and beautiful lakes and rivers, my small rural area has a few landmarks and tourist attractions that are unique to the Madawaska Valley;

  • Zurakowski Park in Barry’s Bay

    Zurakowski Park in Barry’s Bay honours local resident and world famous test pilot Janusz Zurakowski. Zurakowski was most famous for his testing of the Canadian Supersonic interceptor known as the CF-105 Avro Arrow.

 

 

Zurokowski Park honouring Janusz Zurokowski Reknowned Test Pilot

  • Crooked Slide Park just outside of Combermere on Old Barry’s Bay Road is a special spot for photographers. It is a reconstruction of an original log chute used by loggers in the early 1900s.

The picturesque Crooked Slide Park. Photo credit; Gal Capone Photography

 

  • The Railway Station located in Barry’s Bay was originally built in the 1890s and now houses an art gallery and heritage museum.

Our Museum, Information Centre and Art Gallery

 

The historic Art Gallery

  • The miles of abandoned rail bed offer easy biking and walking as well as dirt biking in the summer and snowmobiling in the winter.

Algonquin Park

The Madawaska Valley is located just 15 minutes from Ontario’s first provincial park; Algonquin Park.  Algonquin Park is a wonderland of biking, hiking and scenic trails through miles of untouched area and is must-visit for canoeing, camping and nature enthusiasts.  The only way to truly explore the interior of the park is by canoe, or on foot.  You had better be rested before starting your trek through the park because it encompasses over 2,950 square miles.  To put that into perspective, the Park is larger than Prince Edward Island!  Algonquin Park is a true Canadian gem located in my own back yard.

Located just 15 minutes south of my home town is one of the most unusual and what I feel is one of the most interesting tourist attractions in Renfrew County and the attraction I would like to highlight; the Bonnechere Caves.

Exploring the caves is a truly unique experience

Imagine the world before fish or dinosaurs!  The Bonnechere Caves give you the chance.  You can transport back to the Ordovician time period which is thought to have been 400 to 500 million years ago.  You can venture down into the caves and see what the world looked like all those millions of years ago.  The tour guides at the Bonnechere Caves are very knowledgeable and will give information on the types of rocks in the caves, the process of fossilization, the impact that the glaciers had on the area landscape, how the caves were formed over the years, what stalactites are and how they grow, the brown bat species that inhabit the caves and how the caves were discovered.  You will also have the opportunity to see fossils that have been collected in the caves from the Ordovician time period.  The visit is educational and awe-inspiring!

My Official Photo shoot inside the Bonnechere Caves. PHOTO CREDIT: Kelly Cobus Photography

The caves are a popular educational trip favourite of area schools and the excursions make learning fun and interesting.

A formal photo shoot at the Bonnechere Caves. Bringing some regality to the Caves. PHOTO CREDIT; Kelly Cobus Photography

I was fortunate to have my official Miss Teenage Eastern Ontario photo shoot done in the Bonnechere Caves!  What a unique way to highlight this local attraction capturing a time long gone.  Photographer Kelly Cobus of Kelly Cobus Photography was wonderful and her insightful eye gave me the opportunity to showcase the caves with a bit of regal flare! Thank you Aaron and Kelly of Kelly Cobus Photography for ensuring I will always have these amazing photos to look back on.

I am so fortunate to have such a beautiful and interesting area as my home base.  No matter where I travel going forward, I will always know one of the most interesting and scenic places on earth are right here at home!

My Natural Surroundings! Photo Credit: Gal Capone Photography

To learn more about the Madawaska Valley visit www.madawaskavalley.ca

To learn more about Algonquin Park visit www.algonquinpark.on.ca

To learn more about the Bonnechere Caves visit www.bonnecherecaves.com

To see more incredible photos by Kelly Cobus Photography visit www.kellycobusphotography.ca

 

Come and visit us!

Until next time,

Sophia

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13 DAYS until Miss Teenage Canada Pageant Week Commences!

WOW! Time is flying by!  I have shifted into high gear as I prepare for the upcoming Miss Teenage Canada Pageant.  I can’t believe I leave for Toronto in just 2 short weeks!

Power Shopping

Last night was a POWER SHOPPING tour to Ottawa with my predecessor the gorgeous Kathleen Barr, Miss Teenage Eastern Ontario 2016 and my two “pageant moms” Donna and Patti from the Teen Ontario East Pageant organization.  You know you are in for a serious shopping excursion when you have a list of items, stores and a map of the shopping centre (highlighted with the store stops we needed to make).  It was a whirlwind tour but very successful.  We managed to find everything I needed (and then some) and we did it all in our short 4 hour window!  POWER SHOPPING at its BEST!  A lot of laughs and spur of the moment decisions highlighted the night.  Pageant talk was the topic of conversation for the evening and we discussed my To Do List and made appointment phone calls on the fly.  A productive evening to say the least.

The Van is Loaded! Mission Accomplished!

Essential shopping has now been put from TO DO to my I’M DONE list!

Next, finish up my Fund raising project for Free the Children, complete my Blog Assignments and compile all of the essential information that I need to take with me to Nationals.

In addition I have to somehow fit all the necessary appointments into a very condensed schedule;  hair, nails etc. and try and work my last few shifts before heading off to Toronto.  Crazy but I love it!  I am truly enjoying the frantic pace.

Dress fittings also have to be added into the mix.  I ABSOLUTELY LOVE my BELLS and BOWS gown!  For anyone shopping for a pageant gown, prom dress or wedding gown you NEED to contact Angeline McDonald at Bells and Bows Bridal.  Their selection and service is second to none and Angeline’s expertise in the field of formal wear is outstanding.  I truly feel glamorous in my gown!

I have been “closet shopping” amongst my friends and now it is time to gather all of my finds and start to sort my choices, make my selections and then choose accessories and shoes to complement each outfit.  We have planned a “PACKING PARTY” to get things pulled together.  I can’t imagine how I am going to pack everything in one suitcase!

I was googling articles on Packing Tips and found the following suggestions that I thought I would share on www.thekrazycouponlady.com.  I thought they were ingenious ideas:

  1. Put a dryer sheet in your suitcase to keep clothes smelling fresh
  2. Pack heavy items in the bottom of your suitcase to help prevent wrinkles on clothing
  3. Slip breakables inside shoes i.e.: glasses
  4. Store moisturizer or lotion in contact lens cases instead of taking the whole bottle
  5. Stop toiletry bottles from leaking by wrapping plastic wrap around the top and reapplying the lid
  6. Hang toiletries on a lanyard then they can be easily transferred from suitcase to over the shower in your hotel
  7. Make individual shampoo and soap packets with Food Saver vacuum sealer
  8. Cover your open razor with a bull nose clip
  9. Keep earrings together by securing them to a large button
  10. Store bobby pins in a tic tac container
  11. Roll clothes when packing instead of folding
  12. Organize outfits by day in Ziploc bags to pack.
  13. Put disposable shower caps over your shoes to prevent any dirt from going onto your clothes
  14. Place long necklaces inside 2 sheets of Glad Press and Seal to prevent knotting
  15. Pack earrings by pair in a weekly pill case
  16. Store cords and earphones in a glass case
  17. Pack makeup brushes, eyeliner and mascara in a glass case
  18. Pack Q-tips in an empty pill bottle
  19. Pack a small bottle of Downy wrinkle releaser to address small creases that may occur from packing
  20. Always pack a Tide stick for marks and small spills

The various articles I read state that if you follow the tips and pack efficiently, you will have adequate space in your suitcase for everything you could possibly need, so I will certainly give it the “old college try” but if all else fails…

I will sit on the suitcase and squish it down until the zipper closes!

Until next time,

Sophia

 

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“Sometimes you will never know the true value of a moment until it has become a memory”

Graduation year  has been such an impacting year, complete with cramming studies in preparation for University, going through the selection process to apply for university/college, completing the required applications and then making that all-important decision as to what University to attend and what to study!  Add to all of those challenges the traditions and events that go along with being a senior; Prom and Graduation, and it is a year of overwhelming emotions.

The Journey Forward

My years at Madawaska Valley District High School (MVDHS) have been incredible.  I have enjoyed every minute of my high school experience.  Playing sports; basketball, volleyball, track and field and badminton have taught me teamwork, how to win and lose gracefully and how important it is to learn time management and prioritization.  My music was also an important part of my high school life!

Prom was everything I always thought it would be and more!  From the moment planning started until the conclusion of the evening’s event it was incredible.  Prom was held June 9th at Spectacle Lake Lodge.  It was a gorgeous day and the backdrop of the venue was breathtaking.  Special thanks to my date, Nolan for making it even more special.

My Senior Prom with Nolan

Prom Memories with Special Friends

The food served at the buffet was absolutely amazing and it gave us the unique opportunity to socialize and reminisce with our fellow grads and friends.  The Prom committee worked very hard to ensure that our 2017 Graduation Class Prom was a memory to cherish.  Special thanks to my beautiful and talented sister Anna DeCarle and local photographer Sebastian Hudder for capturing our Prom memories in some very special photos.

My beautiful sister Anna captured our Prom photos

Prom is of course followed closely with final exams; those last high school cramming sessions and then the emotional next step;  GRADUATION.

 

Graduation was an emotional evening as we remembered days spent at Madawaska District High School.  The years I have spent in these hallways have left me with memories; some that make me laugh, some that make me tearful, but all have helped to mold me into the person I am today.

Thanks Mom!

My family and friends have been my greatest support throughout my high school days and have quietly encouraged me and always helped me to believe in myself.  The teachers at MVDHS are so wise, caring and supportive.  They ensure we have the tools required to succeed in the next chapter of our lives.

We did it together!

I was honoured to be awarded the Marie Bloskie Memorial Award; recognizing a student that best demonstrates living their live according to the beatitudes and in addition was awarded the top mark in my guitar music class.  Both accomplishments that I am extremely proud of.

It was bittersweet for our graduation class knowing that this would be the last time we would all be together and seeing each individual walk across the stage and realize how much we have all grown since we first entered the doors as “Minor niners” was impacting.

I am so proud of everything the MVDHS Graduating class of 2017 accomplished and I know each and every one of us will go out and make a positive impact on the world in our chosen fields.

MVDHS Graduate 2017

“It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are!” 

Goodbye to the halls of MVDHS, I have treasured my time in your hallowed halls but now I am ready to venture forward and see what life has in store for me!

The Ending of an Era and the Beginning of the Next!

 

 

Till next time,

Sophia

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A Night Celebrating Community Achievement

Chamber of Commerce Awards Night Live on Cogeco TV and MYFM

One of my favourite things about being Miss Teenage Eastern Ontario and Miss Teen Ontario East previously is the people that I have the opportunity to meet that I wouldn’t otherwise have.

Getting ready to present awards with Danika Jenkins Miss Teen Ontario East 2017

Last week, along with my successor, Danika Jenkins Miss Teen Ontario East 2017 were invited to attend the Chamber of Commerce Awards banquet and hand out the various recognition awards for the community.  It was an honour and a privilege to be part of the festivities and to get the chance to meet the incredible business professionals and volunteers who make our community so very special.

The theme for the evening was A Night at the Casino so we had the opportunity to visit with the guests as they tried their luck at a variety of casino games before the awards portion of the evening commenced.  It was a great networking opportunity for everyone in attendance and I was fortunate enough to meet many of the people who would later be recognized.  The food was incredible!  Congratulations to Amy from Rocky Mountain House who provided the most delicious appetizers I have ever tasted.

Delicious array of food and YES A CANDY TABLE provided by Rocky Mountain House

The evening was all about recognizing outstanding businesses, long-serving businesses, new businesses, hardworking community groups and special volunteers.  It was amazing to see and speak with business owners who have carried on family businesses for over 100 years!  What an incredible accomplishment!  Danika and I met each of the recipients as we handed off awards and paused for photos.

The crowd favourite for the evening was definitely the co-recipient of the YOUTH VOLUNTEER AWARD, Charlie LeClaire!  Charlie, along with Mitchell Hanniman were awarded the Youth of the Year Awards.  Both are very active in their community and spend countless hours volunteering at various events.  Charlie was definitely the BEST DRESSED Man at the event!  With Charlie’s personality and his ability to take over the room, he will definitely be headed for a political future.

Community YOUTH of The YEAR co-winner, CHARLIE!

The last award of the evening was the Citizen of the Year award and my very own Pageant Mom; Patti Dillabough was a nominee.  Patti, is the Director of the Teen Ontario East pageant and puts so many volunteer hours into the pageant, working with the titleholders, assisting delegates and chairing the Teen Ontario East’s Childhood Cancer Awareness campaign.  It is inspiring!  In addition to the pageant associated events, Patti is also a strong supporter and volunteer with a number of other charities and causes both inside and outside the community.   She is so deserving of the award and the special recognition that it represents.  It is through Patti’s leadership that so many of us have been introduced to, and become passionate about, volunteering.  It was an honour for both Danika and I to be part of Patti’s recognition ceremony.  She is so deserving and such a humble recipient of the award.

With Teen Ontario East Director and Citizen of the Year Patti Dillabough and the Inspirational Paige Dillabough

Congratulations Patti Dillabough, Citizen of the Year!

 

Till next time,

Sophia

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