DAY TWO of my MISS TEENAGE CANADA Pageant Journey

My first full day at Miss Teenage Canada was nothing less than perfect! First thing we had a great breakfast from Tim Hortons and following that we got to be pampered by professional hair and makeup artists! I was so excited to have my makeup and hair done and learn some new tips and tricks about beauty styles and products.

My wonderful and talented Make Up Artist Laurie Whelen

My wonderful and talented Make Up Artist Laurie Whelen

Laurie Whelen, makeup artist extraordinaire did my makeup and I loved it! I really enjoyed getting to know all about her profession and the education behind it.

My hair was done by the ladies from GLAMZEE BEAUTY and they gave my hair some volume with sort of a vintage vibe. I had many compliments on my hair and was told several times that it made me look like Marilyn Monroe, which I take as a huge compliment!

My Hair in Progress

My Hair in Progress

After all of the excitement of hair and makeup I headed down for my photo and video shoot! The photo shoot was so much fun! I learned a lot of great new poses, ones that I would have never even thought to try!

My Amazing Hair Stylist Zakira from Glamzee Beauty

My Amazing Hair Stylist Zakira from Glamzee Beauty

The video shoot was so awesome! I had a lot of fun talking into the camera and getting a chance to promote my platform; Childhood Cancer Awareness!

The Finished Product! Ready for Photo shoot and Video shoot!

The Finished Product! Ready for Photo shoot and Video shoot!

When we finally got a chance to sit down and relax it was time for a tasty rice and chicken lunch and all of the girls got a chance to mingle. I’ve met such amazing girls while I’m here that share a lot of interests with me and some even have crazy talents or interests that I’ve never even heard of!

MTC Choreographer Shawn Cuffie

MTC Choreographer Shawn Cuffie

After lunch we started our choreography for the bathing suit number, all 56 delegates strutted their stuff to fun and upbeat pop music until they couldn’t strut anymore. Our great choreographers Sean and Hollywood taught us how to rock our heels and carry ourselves confidently. I also learned that dancing in heels isn’t as impossible as you thought it might be!

Our REHEARSAL BREAK Selfie!

Our REHEARSAL BREAK Selfie!

We had some more free time to chat and do some blog writing and then we sat down for a delicious pasta and pizza dinner!

After dinner some of us decided to get a tan or eyelash extensions from Golden Glamour Goddesses. I had so much fun just waiting for my spray tan because we all got another chance to socialize and get to know each other! Believe it or not one delegate I met from British Columbia actually goes to the same high school as my cousin. It really is a small world.

I absolutely love my spray tan! The ladies at GGG did a fantastic job. I was a little nervous at first because I am new to the spray tan world, but I felt completely comfortable in these ladies’ capable hands.

Today was FANTASTIC! I still can’t believe that Day 2 is already over. This week is going to go by in the blink of an eye. I’m so excited for all the experiences yet to come!

GO GOLD
Kathleen

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VOTING HAS STARTED for the 2016 MISS TEENAGE CANADA Pageant.

 

I thought I would share these detailed VOTING Instructions with you in case you are unsure of how to vote.

Important

 

 

 

 

YOU MUST be REGISTERED with the Miss Teenage Canada Pageant Voting Registry in order to VOTE.  If you ARE REGISTERED, simply CLICK the VOTE button below to be sent directly to my DETAIL PAGE to cast your vote.

Click on the VOTE button to cast your VOTE.

Click on the VOTE button to cast your VOTE.

You will find the Input BOX On the bottom right hand corner of my DETAIL PAGE (where you have been directed by the VOTE button above).  Type in your e-mail and CLICK VOTE.

You will receive a pop up indicating that your VOTE has been cast!

IF YOU ARE NOT REGISTERED with the Miss Teenage Canada website and have NOT PREVIOUSLY VOTED before, you need to REGISTER first.

TO REGISTER:  Click the LOGO below to be directed to the Miss Teenage Canada Website Main Page.

MTC-LOGO

Then CLICK on

CLICK on the above picture to be directed to the VIP CLUB sign up

CLICK on the above picture to be directed to the VIP CLUB sign up

INPUT your NAME, AGE and EMAIL in the Input Boxes indicated and CLICK  —   REGISTER

You will receive a Confirmation e-mail to the e-mail you have REGISTERED.  (Check your Junk Inbox if you do not immediately see the e-mail)

Click the LINK on the Confirmation e-mail that you receive to VERIFY your e-mail.

Then you can CLICK the LINK to the FINALISTS Page also in the confirmation e-mail to be directed to the Finalists page or you can simply CLICK the VOTE BUTTON Above to be directly to my FINALIST PAGE.

Input your e-mail in the VOTE BOX at the bottom right hand corner and CLICK VOTE.

Thank you for taking the time to VOTE for me.  I truly appreciate all of the support that I have been receiving!  I have the BEST Home Town FANS possible!

GO GOLD

Kathleen

 

Written by: Kathleen
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DAY ONE of my MTC Pageant Week Journey

The Van is packed

The Van is packed

The day finally arrived and we were OFF TO TORONTO for 2016 Miss Teenage Canada Pageant Week!  After some strenuous suitcase aerobics, I managed to close my massive suitcase of clothes and shoes, pack up the van and off we went.  ROAD TRIP!

Mom, Patti and I had lots of laughs on the drive and we

Our ROADIE SELFIE!

Our ROADIE SELFIE!

managed to cram in some last minute “pageant talk!”  The drive went by in a blink of an eye!  My heart was filled with excitement the entire way down!  We finally arrived in Toronto and stopped for a quick lunch at Boston Pizza before heading to the MTC REGISTRATION at the MTC Host Hotel, the HOLIDAY INN TORONTO AIRPORT.  My heart dropped!  I was finally here!   I then met the MTC Staff and ventured off into the beautiful ballroom where I met and got to know the other amazing delegates from across the country. I met my roommate, the beautiful Katie from Nova Scotia.  We are fast becoming great friends.  We had a few minutes to start to unpack our suitcases and then it was off to our First OFFICIAL 2016 Miss Teenage Canada Delegate Meeting.

My Beautiful Roommate KATIE from Nova Scotia

My Beautiful Roommate KATIE from Nova Scotia

We had a great dinner from PIZZA NOVA and an awesome cake and had an opportunity to start to get to know each other as we chatted through dinner.

THE ONTARIO GIRLS!

THE ONTARIO GIRLS!

We also received some amazing gifts from some of our sponsors which I will tell you about tomorrow!

For now, it’s time to finish unpacking and get some rest!

 

GO GOLD,

Kathleen

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MISS TEENAGE CANADA PAGEANT Preparations

MTC-LOGO

The past few months have been incredibly busy and filled with excitement! My journey to the Miss Teenage Canada Pageant has required a lot of preparations; volunteering, fundraising, blogging, filling out paperwork, issuing receipts and sending out numerous personal thank you cards. All of these tasks are important and they are all lessons we have all learned from the opportunity of being a Miss Teenage Canada Delegate.  These requirements show that the delegates of the Miss Teenage Canada pageant are responsible and capable young women who take their regional titles and responsibilities seriously. It is amazing what I have learned just by being a 2016 Miss Teenage Canada Delegate; Time Management, Public Relations skills, Public speaking skills, the importance of prioritizing and organizing, dealing with unforeseen challenges and constantly being ON THE GO!  I have LOVED every minute of it.  I still can’t believe that I’m leaving for Toronto THIS WEEKEND! I’m so excited for this experience and all of the friends and memories I will make throughout the week. I can’t wait to meet the other delegates, learn about their hometowns, their charity platforms and what they are passionate about.

My Shopping Excursion

My Shopping Excursion

The last two weeks of my preparations have been very busy but very exciting and rewarding. Kicking off the final countdown to MTC was a 10- hour shopping trip to the Bayshore Shopping Centre in Ottawa with my mom, sister and good friends Patti and Paige. We took the term “shop till you drop” quite literally. Thanks to my shopping team for helping with some last minute decisions and bargain finds!

BLOG 14 BELLS AND BOWI had a dress fitting of my absolutely gorgeous evening gown that I purchased from BELLS and BOWS BRIDAL Centre in Lethbridge, Alberta.  Special thanks to Angeline MacDonald for taking the time to assist me and for making my long distance gown shopping an incredible experience.  I cannot wait to wear my gown at the Miss Teenage Canada Pageant.  I can’t share pictures yet, but trust me IT IS WORTH THE WAIT!

Then it was a long fashion show session with all of my potential outfits pairing them with jewelry, the ever-important shoes and accessories.  Once everything was chosen and complimented properly then it all had to be PACKED!

PAGEANT WEEK PACKING!

PAGEANT WEEK PACKING!

Throughout the week, I also had a variety of events to take part in. I had a lot of fun filming a video at Bonnechere Caves as my first Blog assignment! Tuesday I had a radio interview with MYFM RADIO about my journey as Miss Teenage Eastern Ontario and my upcoming trip to Miss Teenage Canada and then started my 2nd blog assignment creating a banner for the Miss Teenage Canada pageant. I loved being able to show my creative side using digital art.

Lots of Family and Friends turned out at my GOOD LUCK Send off Party

Lots of Family and Friends turned out at my GOOD LUCK Send off Party

After a busy week, my sponsor, the Miss Teen Ontario East Pageant Organization was so kind to throw me a GOING AWAY/GOOD LUCK PARTY at Coco Jarry’s in Renfrew. I was so happy to have all of my friends and family show up to give me their support and to wish me luck. It was a lovely evening.  Coco Jarry’s made us a wonderful buffet of their famous

Our MISS TEEN Slushies created by NICK owner of COCO JARRY'S! LOVED THEM!

Our MISS TEEN Slushies created by NICK owner of COCO JARRY’S! LOVED THEM!

pizza, nachos, bruschetta bread and wraps and the owner Nick featured a special Miss Teen Slushy for us to enjoy out on the patio. A pink and delicious blend of fruit juices and icy goodness.  I was very honored that His Worship Mayor Michael Donohue, Mayor of Admaston-Bromley took the time from his very busy schedule to attend my GOING AWAY/GOOD LUCK PARTY and give me his personal best wishes.

With Mayor of Admaston/Bromley His Worship Mayor Michael Donohue

With Mayor of Admaston/Bromley His Worship Mayor Michael Donohue

Finishing up the week, I was treated to a relaxing day at the Main Street Spa in Cobden with my mom getting manicures and pedicures. It was nice to take a few hours to sit back relax and be pampered after an eventful and rewarding 7 weeks.

BLOG 14 SPA

Getting special treatment at the Main Street Spa in Cobden

My final duty this week was to close my charity bank account and get all of the money I’ve raised into two separate checks, one for Free the Children and one for Fort McMurray Fire Relief. I can only imagine how happy the ladies at the bank were because they will no longer have to count my baggies of heavy change or paper clipped bills that they had to count after every fundraiser! This was an exciting time, but also a bittersweet one, because this meant that all of my fundraising was done. I truly enjoyed taking on the FUNDRAISING PROJECT challenge. The most important things we can give are our talents and time to help others. I look forward to continuing my charity work in the future with many of the charity organizations I’ve met along this journey.

I will be attempting to do daily BLOG posts during my Miss Teenage Canada week so everyone can keep up with my experience and my Miss Teenage Canada pageant journey.  I apologize in advance if I miss a day but according to my predecessors Caroline, Hillary, Gracie, Sonya and Theresa I will be a tad busy!  So excited for everything this amazing experience is about to bring me!

TOE logo

BLOG 14 farmer bootsBefore signing off, I would also like to take this time to thank my SPONSOR and HOME PAGEANT, the MISS TEEN ONTARIO EAST PAGEANT for providing me with this unique and incredible opportunity.

 

So, I guess it’s off with the work boots, the ball hat and my farmer-wear and ON WITH THE HEELS!

BLOG 14 HEELS

Next stop Toronto and the Miss Teenage Canada Pageant!

 

Go Gold

Kathleen

 

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Free the Children and Fort McMurray Fire Relief Fundraising Project

BLOG 12 Fundraising pennies

“Fundraising is the gentle art of teaching the joy of giving.”
-Hank Rosso

Fundraising is a component of the Miss Teenage Canada Pageant and I am proud to be a delegate in a pageant that emphasizes the importance of giving back to others.

ftc logo revised

This year, in addition to raising funds for the Miss Teenage Canada’s main charity focus; FREE THE CHILDREN, we were also encouraged to expand our fundraising efforts to include BLOG 13 Fort McFort McMurray Fire Relief.  Each delegate was given seven (7) short weeks to raise funds for both charities.  I began my Miss Teenage Eastern Ontario Fundraising project seven (7) weeks ago and I am extremely proud of the end result.  I spent the week prior to my 7-week project start date organizing events, making phone calls, sending letters of introduction and booking venues to ensure that my 7 weeks went as smoothly as possible.

Giant Garage Table in Downtown Renfrew

Giant Garage Table in Downtown Renfrew

I kicked off my Fundraising Project with a Bake Sale/Treat table at our Community wide GIANT SIDEWALK/YARD Sale held on the main street of Renfrew.  Vendors set up stands down both sides of the main street, there was games and activities for kids and some local performers entertained the shoppers.  It was a true community effort and lots of fun.  I was lucky I had an excellent crew of family and friends who helped bake goodies and also helped me the day of the event.

A Ladies' Night Golf Promotional Speech

A Ladies’ Night Golf Promotional Speech

The following week, I attended Ladies’ and Men’s Golf Nights and spoke about my upcoming trip to the Miss Teenage Canada Pageant and my Fundraising Project for Free the Children and Fort McMurray Fire Relief.  It was an excellent opportunity to advertise my project and to encourage participation in my upcoming events.  It also gave me an excellent opportunity to sell chocolate bars to hungry golfers as they came off the course!

Men's Night Promotional Speech

Men’s Night Promotional Speech

TAG DAY Entertainers

TAG DAY Entertainers

 

May long weekend I teamed up with some of my very talented friends for a Tag Day with a musical twist. We set up at 3 different locations throughout my community and performed songs on our guitars and ukuleles in exchange for tips and donations. The fundraiser was incredibly successful and one that couldn’t have been possible without the help of my very talented volunteers.  I would like to officially thank the following businesses:  17 West, Canadian Tire and Eganville Foodland for allowing me to fund raise at their locations.  It was a wonderful opportunity to meet people in the community and inform them about the Miss Teenage Canada pageant, my title, my Charity Platform and my Fundraising Project.

Euchre Night at the Douglas Tavern

Euchre Night at the Douglas Tavern

June 11th I hosted a Euchre night at the Douglas Tavern. 16 teams of 4 participated in the event to make it a great evening of fun, friends and laughs. Everyone was supportive of both causes and very energetic playing cards!  The Tavern said it was the loudest card tournament that has ever been played at their facilities.  A GREAT TIME WAS HAD BY ALL!

 

The following weekend was a busy but exciting one! I hosted two Fundraisers for Free the Children and Fort McMurray Fire Relief and I was a guest at the CHEO Teddy Bear Picnic at the Governor General’s Residence in Ottawa.

With Miss Teen Ontario East Sophia DeCarle and LEGENDARY LUCKY RON

With Miss Teen Ontario East Sophia DeCarle and LEGENDARY LUCKY RON

My first fundraiser that weekend was a music night hosted at the Douglas Tavern. Some talented local performers volunteered their time and opened up for Ottawa Valley legend and Ottawa Valley Country Music Hall of Fame inductee; Lucky Ron. His legendary talent and personality was infectious and everyone in attendance was appreciative, loud and enthusiastic.  A big thank you to Lucky Ron who took the time from his incredibly busy schedule to make a stop at the Douglas Tavern for my Fundraising Project and to all of the opening acts who made the show a success. A HUGE thank you to the Douglas Tavern for their hospitality!

Garage Sale and Gladys & Doug's

Garage Sale and Gladys & Doug’s

Then there was no rest to be had because I was up at the crack of dawn the next morning to set up for my second fundraiser of the weekend; A huge GARAGE SALE.  We had lots of people and lots of sales!  I was able to partner up with my good friends Doug and Gladys and have the sale at their home in prime Garage Sale territory!  It was fantastic and yielded a great result.  Thanks to Doug and Gladys for their help and assistance. (And Doug’s muffins were excellent!)   Due to the CHEO Teddy Bear Picnic event that afternoon, I had to leave Doug and Gladys with the clean-up!  Thanks for taking that task on!

The following week I had to put my Fundraising project on a temporary hold so I could concentrate on my final exams.

Canada Day "TREATS" with Daphne Rose Ontario East Ambassador

Canada Day “TREATS” with Daphne Rose Ontario East Ambassador

Next on the agenda, Canada Day!  Canada Day is always a huge celebration in my community with many parades, festivals and firework shows. The Firework Celebration and festivities in Renfrew are always a big turn out with a lot of fun activities to make the event as exciting as it is. This year I was asked to be in the Renfrew Canada Day parade and attend the fireworks. I was so excited to take part because I have always loved attending this event. The Renfrew Recreation Centre also allowed me to set up a convenience stand for my Fundraising Project and I was beyond thrilled.  My Mom and sisters and I spent the night before covered in candy floss and popcorn as we filled bags to sell at my Canada Day table.  Special thanks to the RCI BLUE ZONE for the use of their candyfloss and popcorn machines!  In addition to the candy floss and popcorn, I served freezies, snow cones, water and pop.  Although it was a rainy day it didn’t stop the community from coming out and celebrating the great country we live in. Events like this make me proud to be a Canadian. There’s no place I’d rather call home!

The Beautiful OAKS of COBDEN GOLF CLUB

The Beautiful OAKS of COBDEN GOLF CLUB

Next up was another busy but great long weekend!  The weather cooperated and I had an exceptional Nine and Dine Golf event with perfect weather, enthusiastic golfers and

My MTOE Beauties; Mae, Hillary, Kathryn and Jessica

My MTOE Beauties; Mae, Hillary, Kathryn and Jessica

wonderful volunteers.   The Oaks of Cobden Golf Club was generous enough to let me host a Charity Golf Tournament for Free the Children and Fort McMurray Fire Relief at their beautiful course. Thank you so much to everyone who came out, to all of the hole sponsors, the prize donors, my amazing volunteers and the Oaks of Cobden Staff. Words can’t describe how thankful I am to live in a community full of such kind and supportive people. The day provided lots of laughs, some interesting golf swings and lots of “Kodak moments!”  It was an excellent way to spend the Sunday of a long weekend!

The enthusiastic DREAM TEAM

The enthusiastic DREAM TEAM

On Tuesday July 5th, I hosted a TRIVIA NIGHT at Coco Jarry’s in Renfrew! We played 5 very loud rounds of Trivia with 16 teams of 6 competing. I’ve never played in a Trivia challenge before and I must say for my first time it couldn’t have gone any better!  Everyone had a blast and was very supportive of my Fundraising Project. The event was hosted by the popular pair; Bob and THE Bear from MYFM radio and I must say their Quiz Master skills were comical and memorable!  I would like to thank NICK from COCO JARRY’S for hosting the event at his lovely restaurant. It was a night of brain teasers, laughs, “friendly” competition and enthusiastic Trivia Buffs!

In addition, throughout the past 7 weeks I have been selling personalized chocolate bars made especially for me by the incredible chocolatiers at J&J Chocolate Sensations in Renfrew, selling raffle tickets for a PROFESSIONAL POPCORN MAKER and lucky squares for a chance to win $250. Each one of these fundraisers were very successful and I would like to extend a HUGE congratulation to the winners of the 2 draws which were announced at my GOOD LUCK SEND OFF party hosted by my home pageant; The TEEN ONTARIO EAST PAGEANT organization!
BLOG 12 Fundraising GOALIn the last 7 weeks I have learned so much about my community, about myself and I have learned just what I am capable of. This Fundraising Project for the Miss Teenage Canada Pageant has taught me the art of organization and planning and has allowed me to grow as a person.  I have polished my public relations skills and have learned firsthand how to approach businesses and organizations to become involved and potentially sponsor events.  It has been very enlightening and certainly educational.  I am very proud of what I have raised and I can’t wait to announce the grand total! I set a personal goal for my Fundraising efforts and I have pushed that Goal over the top!  Words cannot describe how thankful I am for all of the support I have had throughout this entire journey. My community is filled with the most kind, caring, generous and supportive people and I am lucky to call them all my neighbors and friends. None of these events would have been possible or successful if it wasn’t for everyone who participated and supported my efforts.

Thank you to everyone who donated, participated and supported my Free the Children/Fort McMurray Fire Relief Fundraising Project for the Miss Teenage Canada Pageant!

 

GO GOLD!

 

Kathleen

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A PARENT’S PERSPECTIVE

My parents are both great and successful people who I love and admire with all my heart. They’re a helping hand when you need one, a smile when you’re sad, a teacher, a role model and a friend. My parents stay strong and hold my family together through times of trouble. So for my final blog series of how Childhood Cancer affects everyone, I give you my mom Donna’s perspective.

“What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.”  Ralph Waldo Emerson

“As I walked alone down the hall of 4 North in CHEO, I stopped in front of a photo of Molly Penny, the CHEO therapy clown, and a little oncology patient walking hand in hand down the hospital corridor. This quote was written beneath it. I couldn’t sleep, I was in tears, I felt so alone and I wondered how on earth my daughter ended up here and where on earth I was going to find the strength to help her through this? Late at night, in this isolated hallway, with one of my precious daughters laying in a hospital bed, I knew that somewhere we as a family would have to summon the strength from within to help her, but I also came to the realization that a gargantuan amount strength and courage was going to have to come from somewhere inside an 11 year old kid.

My Mom and my sister Jill

My Mom and my sister Jill

Our daughter was an athletic gregarious fun loving girl always laughing and on the move, when she started to experience stomach pains and flu like symptoms we believed she had just contacted a winter flu. When these pains became excruciating we took her to Renfrew Victoria Hospital (RVH) where she was given pain medication until an ultrasound could be done in the morning. After the ultra sound she was rushed to CHEO by ambulance where we met a surgeon who thought she perhaps had an ovarian torsion (twisted ovary) which causes swelling of the ovary and pain in the abdomen. She was scheduled for roughly a one-hour laparoscopic surgery at 6pm that evening. As we sat in the waiting room, the 1 hour stretched into 3 and we were panicked. The “mass” around her ovary had been ruptured and the small surgery became a much larger ordeal for her.

The mass was sent away, and after a week stay at CHEO she got to come home, two weeks after that she was diagnosed with cancer. Her first treatment would start just before Christmas and she was scheduled to be home for Christmas Eve.

Our first reaction was shock, followed closely by disbelief, fear and grief. She was such an athletic, healthy kid; we couldn’t understand how this could happen to someone so young and active.

A Mom and Daughter Selfie!

A Mom and Daughter Selfie!

In my mind, I was hoping there was a mistake made in her blood work or lab results, I really struggled with facing the mortality of my child when every fiber of being a Mom is about protecting your children. Outwardly, you want to be calm for your child and strong for your family but inside is a different story. I wrote some poems during this time to help myself cope with the turmoil I felt on the inside. I struggled with my faith and I wanted desperately to take the shock, disease and pain away from her and put it on myself, but I realized that the lion’s share of this battle was going to be hers alone and that was hard to comprehend. It was a heavy load for an 11-year-old kid, she was thrown into a world of adult terminology and decisions as well as medical tests, procedures and many needles, reports and machines.

BLOG 11 Donna4We lost the luxury of that carefree feeling of everything being alright with our kids. She was going to be missing school and I was going to have to leave work. She would have to deal with losing her hair and contending with a type of chemo known for causing terrible nausea. We quickly became knowledgeable about medical terminology, medications and protocols. I would go into what I later referred to as “CHEO” mode, monitoring visitors, sterilizing our home when she was neutropenic, and scheduling treatments and appointments. We became more tightly knit and we switched off Mom and Dad at the hospital to be with our other two children and keep things somewhat “normal” at home for them. Our other two daughters focused on their sister and what they could do to help her through each round of chemo and then radiation. The time in treatment can be isolating. We always planned things in the future to look forward to, it seemed to lift her spirits and drive her recovery. The Candlelighters were a huge part of this. They gave us events to look forward to and Jill was given a laptop to use during treatments so she could stay connected with her friends which was so very important to her recovery.

Six months after her original treatments, routine blood work at RVH showed elevated tumour markers and our daughter was given the news that she had a relapse tumour. After being named top athlete at the local track meet and taking part in RCI’s relay for life that week, she was now facing 2 more surgeries, 5 more rounds of aggressive chemo and radiation. You think hearing that initial diagnosis is the worst news you can get, but relapse was worse, because this time she knew what lay ahead.

This blog series is about perspectives and as a Mom and a teacher, I’d like to share some of the extraordinary things that I saw happen next, from my perspective.

After the relapse news, Jill again had to leave school and enter treatment. As any “frequent flyer” at CHEO will tell you, this means missing many social events and milestones. Many holidays, birthdays and celebration times are spent isolated in the hospital. Not being able to just hang out with your friends when you want to is a huge loss.

I think one of the most amazing things I saw at this time was the resiliency, strength and acceptance from Jill’s sisters and friends.

SISTERS are the BEST Friends you can also call Family!

SISTERS are the BEST Friends you can also call Family!

During this time, from day one, I saw Jill’s younger sister Kathleen become somebody who could make Jill laugh and who was always ready to go outside and make forts or play games when Jill felt up to it. She became a Wii challenger, a cartoon watching buddy and a messenger for Jill between home and school. I found that much of her focus was on making Jill smile or get her active.

Jill’s older sister Jenna shouldered more responsibility at home. She became more of a girls’ night organizer and popcorn maker. I feel that she spent more time trying to make evenings at home fun for her sisters and she also changed plans and was willing to go places and do things at anytime so Jill was not so isolated. I feel much of her focus was on keeping things easier and positive for Jill and our family.

They seemed to take changes in stride and even though they were worried, they tried to make things as positive as possible. The trio of sisters were dancing, singing raucous kids when they could be, and quiet, snuggle up with a movie companions when that was needed too. They seemed to just sense what was needed at any given stage of recovery.

As a Mom and a teacher, I worried about how this news was going to affect Jill’s friends. A diagnosis like this is a big intrusion into a childhood world of carefree laughter and fun. I was concerned about how they would handle this news and struggle to make sense of it all. The busy days at the end of the school year, before Jill’s hospitalization, were going to be action packed and fun but Jill was going to share some pretty intense news with them. How would they feel when they got home at night and snuggled into bed? Would they be afraid? Would it be too much to handle? Every one of the parents of Jill’s friends I spoke to, were all helping their child cope but were very concerned about what they could do for Jill. They all supported Jill’s decision to talk to her friends at school and tell them what was happening.

Jill’s friends at school were very supportive and accepting. They sent her notes, videos and pictures. The biggest thing I noticed about the kids is that they left the illness behind and sent funny ridiculous things that showed just kids being kids. They didn’t change who they were. A huge part of transitioning back to school was that Jill’s friends accepted her right back into normal school routines. Sometimes kids who are away from their peers for an extended period of time can be isolated when they return. This didn’t happen with Jill’s friends or her teachers. When she returned, she was welcomed and very quickly bounced back into being a regular student. The kids seemed to roll with things sometimes better than adults.

With Jill’s family friends, I noticed their ability to change plans when needed. I found it amazing how they were so willing to celebrate her February birthday in July, have Halloween early, stay home and have a New Years Eve pajama party or make snow forts outside in sub zero temperatures just to be together. I found that each friend had a gift they shared with Jill to help with her recovery. Some where artists, some communicators, others were clowns and motivators. They all stayed positive for Jill and followed her lead. Amazing!

Our family is a pillar of support for our Hero Jill.

Our family is a pillar of support for our Hero Jill.

I have seen my 11 year old fun loving, intelligent, beautiful daughter vaulted into a hurricane of severe change. I’ve seen her go through highs and lows that still seem Blog 11 donnaunimaginable. I’ve watched the typical teenage bumps, bruises and disappointments help her develop into a fun loving, intelligent, beautiful 18 year old who doesn’t allow the past to define her, and who continues to overcome the struggles associated with recovery and moving forward. Did she do it alone? Absolutely not. She was, and continues to be surrounded by loving sisters and extraordinary friends. However, somewhere inside there lies an incredible spirit that embodies resiliency and strength, she is an incredible woman, from my perspective.”

Donna, A Proud Mom!

Seeing my Mom’s words in print was heartbreaking and inspiring.  During Jill’s journey, I very seldom ever saw my Mom’s reserve break.  She was always strong, positive and in control.  I hope her words have moved you as much as they have moved me!

GO GOLD!

Kathleen

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“A grandparent is a little bit parent, a little bit teacher and a little bit best friend.”

My grandparents have always been a huge part of my family’s lives and I am very fortunate to have lived so close to them and be able to spend as much time with them as I have. Throughout my sister’s diagnosis, it affected my grandparents severely. As another addition to my Childhood Cancer Awareness Blog Series, I asked my grandma for her perspective on what it was like when Jill was diagnosed.

 My Grandma Sybil’s Perspective:

“Throughout my life I have written countless essays, papers, reports etc.  This one will be the most difficult one I have ever attempted to write.  Jill’s journey through her cancer ordeals have been well written by her immediate family, therefore I will refer to various segments, and focus on Jill’s earlier life, as well as trying to give some insight into how childhood cancer affects the family, friends, neighbors, an entire community and beyond.
Jill was always a happy child, bubbling with enthusiasm, energy, love and compassion. Along with this charming, adorable personality, she was energetic, athletic, kind and thoughtful. She was always a pleasure to be with. When she came to visit at Grandpa & Grandma’s, she usually entered in with a cartwheel, or back flip. Then say, “Hi Grandma!” Naturally I would respond with an appropriate reply. Like, WOW that is Jill that just came flying through the door. Hugs, and then we would move ahead to what the plan was for today.

My Sister Jill

My Sister Jill

Playing outdoors, her first stop was often the maple tree where she would climb the lower branches. This was upsetting to Grandpa, as he was afraid she would fall. She never did! I assured him that she had good balance, was strong, and knew what she was capable of doing safely. (I loved to climb trees when I was young, so did her mother, so we understood her desire)
Fast forward to November 2009, when our world turned upside down. Jill became very ill with severe pain, was rushed to Renfrew Victoria Hospital where she was diagnosed with a large “cyst” on her left ovary. She was transported to CHEO by ambulance.  As a grandmother, I was concerned, anxious, worried, but knew I had to stay strong, remain positive and support the family. It is possible the cyst, or tumor could be benign!

We had to have faith, pray and hope for the best. However, the tumor was malignant! Shock, Panic!  Fear! Along with a very sick feeling in the pit of your stomach pass over you.  You have to give yourself a “shake”, deal with the problem. So you deal with the shock, stay strong, and go to be with Jill and the family. They need you, your support, love, strength, and reassurance that Jill would conquer this setback as well.
Helping the family while Jill was at CHEO, I felt I would serve them best by helping Jenna and Kathleen at home.  I was happy to make meals, lunches, drive them to events, keep Kathleen company when Jenna was busy with schoolwork, sports or playing hockey.  I could also drive Kathleen to her hockey games and be there to support her. Her parents were always at their games, so I must do my best to cheer her on. It was also important to reassure them that Jill was going to get well. She was strong and would win this battle!

Jill, My Grandma and Me

Jill, My Grandma and Me

The community, neighbor’s, friends, school staff, as well as extended family members supported the family in various ways, preparing a meal, bringing special treats, or dropping in with a gift, or a surprise for the girls. They were always supportive. Jill went through radiation, returned home for a short period, returned to school, then back to CHEO for chemo.
Jill returned home for Christmas Eve following her chemo treatments.  She had been feeling hungry for some home made food, and had requested ham on buns for Christmas Eve supper – one of her favorites. As she was very sensitive to cooking odors, that should be a safe one. Grandma was up to the task, cooked the ham at my home, and brought it to their house.  Jill was so very sick from the chemo; she slept through her special supper. We were so happy to have her with us, but felt sad for her. However we knew Jill would be able to enjoy her ham on a bun tomorrow or next day.
Christmas morning. Jill opened her gifts with Jenna & Kathleen’s help.  When I arrived, she was still very tired, but said I could open her gift.  Jill had been very excited about her chosen gift for me. Her Mom had taken her shopping when she was able to go before treatments. She was so excited and thrilled with her purchase she could barely wait for Christmas because this was “the best gift ever!”  I knew how much she wanted to see me open this precious gift, but knew she was much too sick to appreciate, or remember this special time, so I suggested we wait until Boxing Day, and we could exchange our gifts then. I mention this in my writing because this gift has a very special place in my heart and will remain in a very special place in my home. Jill was still thinking of others, and not dwelling on her own illness.
Jill was able to return to school after the March Break. She was so excited that along with being with her classmates again, back at school, and it was springtime. That means track & field is the focus in gym classes. She would be able to train for one of her favorite sports! Was she able to do this?  Of course she was! She excelled once again and won Junior Girl Trophy at Renfrew large track meet.  Applause for Jill was widespread, as other school members, as well as coaches were aware of Jill’s battle, and were supporting her. Were there tears in my eyes at this presentation? Yes, and I would guess that I wasn’t the only one in the crowd. I will never forget this meet.  Jill enjoyed this spring season as she gained strength, she was healthier, and her beautiful hair was growing in again.
Unfortunately, once again at the end of June, Jill’s cancer had returned. This time she had radiation first to shrink the tumor, followed by chemo. We know she was devastated at first. How much can a child bear? However, Jill remained strong, positive, optimistic and never complained. Jill dealt with being ill once again, even though it was terrifying as she had been there before.

Jill and I  giving back at our Road side BAKE SALE for CHEO

Jill giving back at our Road side BAKE SALE for CHEO

Five days following surgery, Jill and Kathleen held a bake sale at the end of their lane, where they raised over $1,000. This effort was to support Childhood Cancer. They were anxious to tell people that this illness is “out there”, and needs to be recognized! This was the beginning of their fundraising and they have continued on. They are both still fundraising for Childhood Cancer.  Continue on girls. You are doing great!
I wish to commend the Candlelighters for their work and support to families dealing with Childhood Cancer. They support families in all areas, especially financially and emotionally.  I recall how thrilled Jill was to receive a laptop computer for her use while recovering at home. This allowed her to keep in touch with her school friends, keep in touch with happenings, also to message each other, as often she was not able to have visitors in her home, because of risk of infection.  Candlelighters also help families by offering them special events such as NHL games (they have a “family box”), which protects families from outside infections. They offer concerts, and more. Candlelighters also help patients remain comfortable while at CHEO.  They are an awesome support group. They deserve and need our support.

Reflecting on these years of Jill’s life is very emotional and heart wrenching for me, her grandmother.  This should NEVER happen to a child, but it DOES! It is a life changing experience for all who endure it. Your thoughts and prayers are with the child and family. You know how they are suffering; yet remaining positive, supportive, and caring for the child with love, compassion and understanding. I am extremely proud of my family for working through this very difficult time in their lives. Each one is a true survivor and champion.

Jill, we are so proud of all your accomplishments.  You have achieved great success in your schoolwork, sports, and all your undertakings.  You have climbed every mountain, and conquered every obstacle in your pathway with determination, perseverance, humility, showing the spirit of a true survivor and champion. Jill is a beautiful young lady who is excited and looking forward to her future as she enters University.

WE LOVE YOU JILL!”

Grandma Sybil

GO GOLD!

Kathleen

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BLOG ASSIGNMENT #2

LET’S DESIGN A NEW MISS TEENAGE CANADA PAGEANT ROLL UP BANNER!

When I got my 2nd blog assignment for the Miss Teenage Canada pageant I was so excited to see that we were to design a banner using the Miss Teenage Canada logo to promote the pageant. I love computer art, graphic design, creating things and showing my creativity in an exciting and interesting way, so I couldn’t wait to take on this challenge.

First off, I wanted to choose an interesting background because the background sets the tone for the project. Needing some inspiration and guidance, I looked on the Sign Source Solution LTD website for tips and tricks of how to make my design POP! They had everything I needed to educate myself about an effective background and optimal color schemes.

After looking through their color combination charts, I chose to go with blue and white. I chose blue because I feel Canada is known for our beautiful fresh water lakes and rivers and when I see blue I instantly think of water. On the Sign Source Solution LTD website it says that blue background gives out a calming aura and I couldn’t agree more. I love the feel that a nice blue background gives. At first I found the blue background just a little plain so I wanted to add a little something extra, I tried flowers, polka dots, different shades but nothing felt quite right and didn’t have quite the effect I was going for. So, I sat and thought about what people think of when they mention a pageant, and then it hit me… BLING! Sparkle was what I needed to make my design a little pageant worthy.

I chose to keep a similar logo to what Miss Teenage Canada currently has, but I made a few minor changes. I kept the logo the same color as the rest of the writing on the page because I feel that all white text looks classy and elegant.

I wanted to incorporate the quote “Be Your Own Kind of Beautiful” because this is the motto of the Miss Teenage Canada pageant and one that I stand by and appreciate.

Then, I selected an animation of a crown with a little touch of pink to match the maple leaf. I chose to place the crown on above the letter “F”  to make it seem as if it’s wearing the crown, much like how all the delegates proudly wear our regional crowns.

BLOG Assignment 2 Poster Revised

Finally, I put a black border around the page to anchor my design. I look forward to seeing all of the designs my fellow delegates come up with and I’d like to thank Sign Source Solution LTD for an AWESOME opportunity to show off my creative side.  I would also like to thank Sign Source Solution LTD for their very generous donation of a new roll up banner sign for the Miss Teenage Canada pageant.

 

I can’t wait to see the finished product!

 

GO GOLD

-Kathleen, Miss Teenage Eastern Ontario 2016

 

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The old rusty hinges creak as the giant wooden door is pulled open, revealing a dimly lit stone staircase. Stepping in from the bright and warm sunshine I am immediately enveloped in cool, wet, darkness. You can hear the dripping of water from the tall stone walls that surround me. I am transported back in time to the Ordovician time period, surrounded by limestone that’s been building for 12000 years and fossils of sea creatures that are over 500 million years old. I have officially begun my tour of the historic wonder, the Bonnechere Caves.

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Part way between the picturesque villages of Douglas and Eganville, In the heart of the Ottawa Valley

Here in Eastern Ontario, we are well known for our natural scenic tourist attractions. To name a few, white water rapids, beautiful fishing lakes, scenic hiking trails and flat-water paddling. Where I’m from, there is a beautiful river that flows through the towns and villages in my community called the Bonnechere River. Growing up, I have spent a lot of time on this river, camping, swimming, fishing and water skiing. This river holds some great campsites and tourist attractions including one that I am incredibly proud to show you. The Bonnechere Caves, owned by Chris Hinsberger is located at 1247 Fourth Chute Road just outside the villages of Douglas and Eganville. This destination is a series of tunnels and caves nestled alongside the Bonnechere riverbed.

The Caves have provided fun and educational tours for families from all over the world for 55 years. The caves are an incredible and historic landmark that had been at the bottom of a tropical sea over 500 million years ago. Stalactites, or rock icicles hang from the ceiling, Fossils of coral and sea creatures, including the ancestors of giant squids, can be seen. Millions of years in the making, the Bonnechere Caves are a thrill for the sightseer.

The first exploration took place in 1955, by the retired World War II ace Tom Woodward. Tom went into the completely black caves with nothing but a flashlight, a camera and a rubber dingy.

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A fossil chart from the Ordovician time period

Bonnechere Caves is known for it’s many fossils, our area is is the Ordovician capital of Canada! Here you will be shown dozens of specimens from this time period. Many of the
fossils found buried in the walls of the cave are coral and sea creatures that existed in a tropical climate.


As a young kid, and even when I visited this week, walking into the bat section of the caves is always a thrill. This is a section where hundreds of bats hibernate for the winter. The caves are home to 6 out of the 7 species of bats that live here in Ontario. A secret I will share with you that the locals know, is never rub your hands along the cracks and ledges of the wall because there might just be a furry friend waiting to surprise you. And secret number two, the sound of terrified screaming really travels in a tunnel!

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A photographer shooting the falls outside of the Bonnechere Caves

Some interesting facts about this destination are that 3 wedding ceremonies have taken place in and around the caves, also artists and photographers from around the world have visited to capture the majestic falls located just outside of the tunnels. The caves are closed in the winter months so that the water levels can be returned to normal to preserve the natural habitat and hundreds of bats hibernate during the freezing cold.

I have always loved visiting the caves. It’s really interesting to travel below the surface of the ground to see what wonders lay beneath. It is a very educational experience for all ages, while still remaining exciting and fun. I always feel like a real explorer or spelunker when I’m traveling through the darkness of the caves. No matter how many times I’ve been through a tour I always learn something new and fascinating.

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I love the Bonnechere Caves!

I come from a very small rural community with a lot of wide open spaces and waters. Here we don’t have mountains, we don’t have ocean beaches and we certainly don’t have skyscrapers and big towers. What makes where I come from different and special are the hidden beauties that lie within. The Bonnechere Caves might be a little off the beaten path, but in my opinion so is everything that is truly great.

 

Until next time, GO GOLD!

-Kathleen, Miss Teenage Eastern Ontario 2016

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A Friend’s Perspective of a Childhood Cancer Diagnosis

Friends are those great people you surround yourself with, the ones who you turn to when your spirits need to be lifted, the ones who fill your life with smiles and laughs. They’re the people that are there for you through thick and thin and offer you comfort, safety and support.  The laugh when you laugh, cry when you cry, and hurt when you are hurting!

BLOG 9 Friendship

My sister Jill is very fortunate to have great friends that have supported her through everything in her life thus far. I asked three of Jill’s close friends who have been in Jill’s life through the years and were by her side through her cancer journey, to share their perspectives on what it was like when Jill was diagnosed with cancer.

Here are their stories:

JILL’S FRIEND MADDIE (Jill’s Best Friend since the very first day of Kindergarten)

Jill and Maddie

Jill and Maddie

“I remember one night my mom getting a call from Donna (Jill’s Mom) telling her that Jill was in the ambulance. I knew that she hadn’t been feeling well and that she was at home from school, but I just thought she just had the flu. Shortly afterwards I found out that my best friend would be fighting ovarian cancer. Jill and I were only age 11, so I thought cancer was all the same. I had no idea that there were different kinds and levels, but Jill at such a young age learned quickly about cancer and informed me on all answers to my “stupid” questions. Before the treatments Jill and I still did all the same activities together, such as playing in each other’s ponds, playing on the same hockey team, skiing, swimming, tubing and much more. When Jill was going through chemo and was sick we couldn’t do everything we did before, but no matter what it was we did, it was always fun. When I would see Jill sick, it was always hard for me to see her like that because I knew how energetic and athletic she was, but she was always strong and would meet me with a smile whenever I went to see her.

Jill and Maddie with a Special message!

Jill and Maddie with a Special message!

One of the hardest things about having your best friend go through cancer is seeing them sick and knowing that they’re missing out on activities that they love. There was never a question of Jill not getting better!  She is the strongest person I know!  Whether it was winning a race or fighting cancer, Jill always won! I should know, we always competed against each other. Jill and I were on the same hockey team and I knew how much she missed playing, so our hockey team put together a video for Jill that she could watch so she knew how much everyone missed her. At school it was very hard waiting outside and seeing Jill’s bus pull up and her not get off. Everyone missed her and was always asking me how she was doing. All the kids Jill’s age from school also put together a video with friends so Jill could watch it, have a few laughs and know we were all thinking about her.  For those times when I wasn’t able to visit Jill because her counts were too low, we would talk on MSN or we would phone each other and talk for as long as we could.

 

Jill and Maddie at Prom

Jill and Maddie at Prom

Having gone through this chapter of Jill’s life with her, brought us closer and taught me so much about life. I will always look up to Jill and hope someday I can be as strong as her. She will always be my best friend with the curly hair! I am so happy that we will be in the same city next year for college and university.”    

Maddie

 

JILL’S FRIEND SAVANNA (Jill’s Best Friend and Neighbour)

Blog 9 Jill and Sav

“I remember that day like it was yesterday; the day I found out that my best friend, neighbor and practically sister was diagnosed with cancer. This was an extremely scary thought even for a twelve-year-old who wasn’t even sure the extent of cancer. Some of the hardest parts was having to see my best friend not be able to do some of the things she used to do, however it didn’t stop her from jumping off snow banks with me in the winter and swimming in the creek in the summer. The hardest part was seeing her have to go through all of the pain and knowing that I could do nothing to stop it or prevent it from happening. No one could!

 

Jill and Savanna at Graduation

Jill and Savanna at Graduation

Jill is an amazing friend that I’m so lucky to get to grow up with and it amazes me everyday to see how much she has overcome at such a young age. Love you lots Jill; it’s inspiring to see how strong you are.”

Savanna

JILL’S FRIEND JAMIE (Jill’s Neighbour and lifelong Friend)

Jill and Jamie

Jill and Jamie

“When you think of some friends they seem more like family. When I think of the Barr’s there is no doubt in my mind that’s how I feel. I have been so lucky to grow up with Kathleen, Jill and Jenna and they are definitely more like sisters to me than just friends.

Jill and Jamie at Grade 8 Graduation

Jill and Jamie at Grade 8 Graduation

When I was told the news concerning Jill, I really didn’t know how to act as I felt like I could do nothing to help and seeing her this way was very tough. At the time I was very uneducated as at that age you were not expected to know really anything about cancer. Everything I knew came from stories and not all ended well so I really had no clue what to think. For example, my grandma had died of cancer when I was one and I never really understood how or why. This story really terrified me as Jill was someone I cared about so much and someone I would do anything for. When I came to school that day in grade 6, I was shocked to see her as she had been gone for a few days before and the winter break was coming soon. I noticed she was being shy and well that is very uncharacteristic of her. She then explained why she had the port (a port-a-cath is surgically inserted to allow easier access for chemotherapy treatments) in her arm. At first all I could think about was that I would not get to see my best friend as often as I was used to and I would constantly be wondering how she was doing. This is when we decided to write in a journal. Kathleen would be the go between allowing for Jill to write in it one night and myself the next. This was really the only contact we had because she couldn’t come to school and it meant the world to me. She would also send messages to the class about how she was doing, which was something we all needed. From that point on, our class tried to do all they could to cheer her up beginning with funny videos, stories, cards and a scrapbook. We did our best to show her how much we cared and how much we truly missed her.

Jill and Jamie at Graduation

Jill and Jamie at Graduation

Just when we thought she was healthy and ready for the next school year, we were informed about the relapse. The emotion I had felt was much deeper compared to the first time as I was more informed about what she was going to have to go through again. I just couldn’t imagine her feelings knowing she was to go through this process again. Before Jill, it was almost unheard of in my mind for someone our age having cancer. She was so brave along with another close friend of mine who was experiencing similar medical complications. The neighbors I grew up with were ones I looked up to and the strength they had shown and continue to show is truly inspiring. If you looked at her now you could never tell the journey that she has had.  She has truly conquered cancer not only once but twice. She does not let it define her and she continues to strive for greatness in the humblest way. I feel so lucky to have a friend who is beautiful, strong, smart, athletic, funny, humble and remarkable. I believe she can accomplish anything and I can’t wait to experience University with her as it is the next big step in our lives.”

Jamie

 Blog 9 ending

To say that a cancer diagnosis affects everyone; the patient, their family, their friends and their community is certainly an understatement.  I hope that by sharing the experiences of my sister Jill’s three friends, it has helped my readers realize that everyone is affected when someone they love is diagnosed with cancer.

Please help me to spread awareness of Childhood Cancer and let’s make a difference is the lives of kids like my sister Jill and my friend Paige.

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GO GOLD,

 

Kathleen

 

 

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