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,


Miss Teenage Eastern Ontario 2017

Written by: Sophia Tagged with:, , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
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Posted On: Categories:Charity Platform

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,


Written by: Sophia Tagged with:, , , , , , , , , , , ,
Posted On: Categories:Blog Assignments

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,



Written by: Sophia Tagged with:, , , , , , , , , , ,
Posted On: Categories:Miss Teenage Canada

“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,


Written by: Sophia Tagged with:, , , , , , , , ,


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,


Written by: Sophia Tagged with:, , , , , , , ,


All Ready for the Kick Off Event for CANADA’S 150th Celebration

I am so fortunate to be a Canadian.

I love being associated with all things Canadian from saying “I’m sorry” for everything, following every statement with a question “eh?”, putting maple syrup on foods that most wouldn’t think about, eating French fries covered in cheese and gravy, learning how to skate as soon as you learn how to walk and starting every day with a stop at Tim Hortons!

Our country is rich in tradition and we are considered the politest country in modern society.  What an incredible reputation to have!

I have been fortunate to have traveled in Canada from British Columbia to Ontario and have stopped in all the provinces in between.  I have experienced the gorgeous scenery, landscape and people that our beautiful country has to offer.  At the top of my bucket list is to do the same trip from Ontario to Newfoundland to witness the East Coast!

I am overwhelmed to be able to celebrate Canada’s 150th as Miss Teenage Eastern Ontario and attend a variety of events in different communities throughout Eastern Ontario.  I am looking forward to celebrating with each and every one of them!

As a prelude to the Canada 150 Celebrations to be held on Canada Day, July 1, 2017, I thought I would share with everyone the Canada 150th logo that was selected from numerous entries from young Canadians who wanted to capture the spirit of the 150th anniversary of Confederation.

The winning entry was created by Ariana Cuvin from Toronto, Ontario.  The following is Ariana’s explanation of what the design logo represents:

“The logo is composed of a series of diamonds, or “celebratory gems”, arranged in the shape of the iconic maple leaf. The four diamonds at the base represent the four original provinces that formed Confederation in 1867: Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. Additional diamonds extend out from the base to create nine more points—in total representing the 13 provinces and territories.

Canada 150 Logo Artist, Ariana Cuvin

The Canada 150 logo is an evocative symbol and will become an enduring reminder of one of Canada’s proudest moments. The maple leaf motif is recognized at home and abroad as distinctively Canadian, and it fosters feelings of pride, unity and celebration. This unique design is simple enough to be drawn by children, and versatile enough to be used in a host of applications. The possible uses of the symbol are as unlimited as the spirit and imagination of the Canadian public.” 


It’s a beautifully graphic representation of our 150th celebrations and something that will now be captured as part of our country’s history.

So, I just wanted to take this opportunity to wish everyone a HAPPY CANADA DAY!  I hope the pride and positivity that we feel tomorrow on our 150th birthday celebration is something that will resonate within all of us as we continue to create Canada’s history.

HAPPY 150th CANADA!  We love you, “from Sea to Shining Sea!”

A proud Canadian,


Written by: Sophia Tagged with:, , , , , ,
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Pageants tend to get a negative reaction when they are discussed with people who have a misconceived idea about what participating in a pageant is all about.  It is particularly challenging for a teenager to address peer pressure when someone voices their strong opinion about your desire to compete in a pageant.  I think as pageant delegates, we have all faced these nay-sayers.  But like anything you decide to do in life, you must make your own choices and just appreciate the opinions of others.  I am proud to say that I AM A PAGEANT Girl!

I was first introduced to pageantry through my fellow Barry’s Bayer, the lovely Theresa Paplinkskie, Miss Teenage Eastern Ontario 2015.  Theresa, as one of her fund-raising events for Free the Children decided, with the help of the incredible Teen Ontario East Pageant team to re-introduce our local pageant formerly called the Timberfest Pageant but renamed to the Miss Madawaska Valley Pageant.  It was a smaller scale production hosted in my home town of Barry’s Bay.  It was extremely well received by the community and after pageant night, I was honored with the title of Miss Madawaska Valley 2016.

The main prize package for Miss Madawaska Valley was registration into the regional pageant Miss Teen Ontario East; A PAGEANT with a PURPOSE!  This is when I was first introduced to the wonderful team of ladies behind the Teen Ontario East Pageant and their passion for their charity platform focus; Childhood Cancer Awareness.  The Miss Teen Ontario Pageant 2016 opened my eyes to the incredible world of volunteering and charity work and I became a true pageant enthusiast!


The Miss Teen Ontario East pageant is a not-for-profit event that extends over one weekend in the month of April.  Delegates come from throughout the Eastern Ontario region to compete and the entire weekend is an eye-opening and truly impacting experience.  There are the competition categories that are aligned with a pageant; photoshoots, modeling sessions, talent competitions, interviews, and questions but this pageant is focused on their passion for their charity; Childhood Cancer Awareness.  Over the span of 4 days the delegates participating get the opportunity to meet and hear the stories of incredible young cancer champions.  It is a weekend that truly changes your perspective on life.  When we first arrived for orientation, we were introduced to Paige Dillabough, a beautiful and incredibly strong young woman who defied the odds and beat brain cancer as an 8-year-old child.  Her story is heart-wrenching and yet so inspiring!  She presented her Courage Bead Necklace; a necklace comprised of 1000s of coloured beads each representing a specific treatment that she had to endure.  It was very impacting!  That someone that young had to go through so much just to survive.  It really makes you appreciate the true gift that life is.  And Paige’s story was just ONE that we would hear about over pageant weekend.

The MTOE (Miss Teen Ontario East) organization is comprised of an incredibly energetic and comical group of volunteers who spend countless hours throughout the year promoting their Childhood Cancer Awareness campaign and then bring it all together for an entertaining and inspiring Pageant weekend.  Any proceeds from the pageant production or from the various fund raisers held by the MTOE committee throughout the year are donated to childhood cancer charities which is why they have been dubbed; A PAGEANT with a PURPOSE by our community.  I was so proud just to compete in this amazing event and the fact that I was representing my area and introducing them to the Childhood Cancer Awareness campaign made it all that more special.

The weekend was a blast!  We attended charity events, did some media interviews, were hosted for dinner at the home of Kathleen Barr, Miss Teen Ontario East 2015, we rehearsed and we danced a lot!  It was the best weekend!

2016 MTOE Tribute Number to Childhood Cancer Champions

The weekend concluded with the pageant production which was hosted in front of a sold- out audience.  It was so much fun!  At the end of the night, I was stunned when it was my name that was called for the title of Miss Teen Ontario East 2016!  My gorgeous crown, encrusted with beautiful childhood cancer awareness gold ribbons was placed on my head and I did my first official walk as Miss Teen Ontario East.

My first walk as Miss Teen Ontario East 2016

That night ignited a year of events and appearances that have truly impacted my life.  The year went by so quickly and on April 23, 2017, I crowned my successor to the Title of Miss Teen Ontario East the lovely Danika Jenkins.

Crowning my successor; Danika Jenkins Miss Teen Ontario East 2017

The Teen Ontario East Pageant is unique because as a titleholder we reign for a complete year; attending events, working with childhood cancer charities, acting as Ambassador for regional charity and community organizations and gaining valuable experience in public speaking and public relations.  At the end of our reign as Miss Teen Ontario East, we are then given the title of Miss Teenage Eastern Ontario and are given the honor of representing our Eastern Ontario region at the Miss Teenage Canada pageant.  I was crowned Miss Teenage Eastern Ontario by the gorgeous Kathleen Barr who took home the Top Fundraising Award at the 2016 Miss Teenage Canada Pageant and the 3rd Runner Up title.

Crowned Miss Teenage Eastern Ontario 2017 by the gorgeous Kathleen Barr

I am so excited to be a delegate in the  Miss Teenage Canada pageant 2017 and I am honored to be representing the Teen Ontario East pageant, the Eastern Ontario region and our charity platform; Childhood Cancer Awareness.


Till next time,

Sophia, Miss Teenage Eastern Ontario 2017



Written by: Sophia Tagged with:, , , , , , ,

Have you ever stopped to think about kids affected with cancer?  Have you ever wondered what those little bodies go through?  Like many of us, I certainly didn’t.  I watched a few movies with kids with cancer, cried and felt sad for them for the 90-minute length of the movie and then put it out of my mind.  It was only Hollywood after all.  Except it is not!  Until I became involved with the Teen Ontario East Pageant, I didn’t really understand the severity of a childhood cancer diagnosis, not only to the young patient but also to their family and friends.  Through my reign as Miss Teen Ontario East 2016 and now as Miss Teenage Eastern Ontario I have had the opportunity to volunteer and meet some of these amazing young heroes.  The children became real, their stories were no longer fiction and their struggles were heartbreaking.  I have met some amazing young cancer champions over the past year and a half and their stories have impacted my life forever.  You cannot truly comprehend the devastation that a childhood cancer diagnosis has on not only the child but also their family.  Over the next few weeks as I prepare for the Miss Teenage Canada Pageant, I would like to try and bring their challenges to the forefront through my blog.  I want to promote my Charity Platform; CHILDHOOD CANCER AWARENESS to my readers in the hopes that maybe I will encourage even one reader to volunteer or donate towards one of the incredible charities that assist kids with cancer and their families.  I want to educate my readers on Childhood Cancer; the disease, the patients, the effect the disease has on the patients and their families and the long-term outcomes that some of them are facing as they grow up.  Creating an awareness of Childhood Cancer and the implications to those affected is the key to raising funds and ultimately finding a cure.

As I was preparing this introductory blog entry, I was researching childhood cancer statistics and it is certainly impacting information.

In Canada, 1700 children and youths between the ages of birth and 19 years of age are diagnosed with cancer each year. Each year!  That is a staggering number!  Although great strides in treatment and care have been made, childhood cancer is still the leading disease-related cause of death for Canadian children. While over 75% of children survive cancer, more than 50% of survivors of childhood cancer face late effects of their disease and treatment, including neurocognitive impairments, sterility and secondary cancers.

I have also learned over the past few months that there are different kinds of childhood cancers and that they each have their own treatment plan and resulting side effects.  The most common childhood cancers include:

  • Leukemia’s (cancers of the blood-producing tissues);
  • Lymphomas (cancers of the lymphatic system);
  • Brain tumors;
  • Solid tumors (like bone cancers)

The Canadian Cancer Society has provided me with some scary statistics on Childhood cancer:

  • Cancer is the number one disease killing children from age six months through to young adulthood;
  • Every year approximately 230 Canadian children die from the disease;
  • Treating a child with cancer demands a 24-hour, seven-day-a-week commitment of specialized care;
  • Childhood cancers are generally more successfully treated than cancers in adults because the cancers grow more quickly and are, therefore, more susceptible to chemotherapy and radiation;
  • Childhood cancer treatments may include chemotherapy, radiation, surgery or bone marrow transplants;
  • Cancer treatments are long and often difficult to persevere but it is the immune system suppression and the resulting inability to go out into public that is for challenging for kids;
  • The short-term effects of cancer and its treatments may include a compromised immune system, hair loss, nausea, muscle aches, loss of appetite, mood problems and poor self-image (especially in teens);
  • Cancer treatments often cause lifelong disabilities such as motor and cognitive impairments, loss of limbs, as well as heart, vision and hearing impairments;
  • Treatments can last from six months to three years or longer; relapses are common.

Cancer Survivor Paige Lighting the Night Gold to promote Childhood Cancer Awareness

Over the next few weeks on my blog, I would like to highlight a few cancer survivors who have been affected by different childhood cancer diagnosis.  I want to tell you in the cancer survivor’s own words what their treatment was, how long it lasted and what side effects are common for their specific type of cancer.  Until meeting these inspirational champions, I didn’t realize that cancer treatments were different depending on the diagnosis.  I assumed they were all treated with the same chemotherapy and that their treatments were all done over the same period of time.  I was naive!  This is not the case!

I hope you will all take the time to read my blog entries on my Childhood Cancer Awareness Platform and you will become more in tune with what these amazing kids really go through.  It is truly awe-inspiring!


Till next time,



Written by: Sophia Tagged with:, , , , , , ,
Posted On: Categories:Charity Platform

Hello! I am Sophia, your Miss Teenage Eastern Ontario 2017! I am 18 years old and will be graduating high school in June. I live in the beautiful Madawaska Valley, which is about 2 hours away from Canada’s capital. I come from a tight knit family with 8 siblings.  Yes, I am the fourth of 9 kids!   I have 6 sisters and 2 brothers; Felicity (age 24), Christian (age 22), Sebastian (age 20), Anna (age 16), Selina (age 14), Megan (age 12), Trinity (10), and Nadia(age 7). I completely adore my large family! There is never a dull moment in my house! Some people find it hard to imagine what it’s like to have a family with 9 kids, but I can’t imagine my life without them. Currently I am the oldest child at home, my older sister and 2 older brothers have already graduated high school and now live in Ottawa where they go to school and work. My beautiful mother, Becky, is raising 6 of us who are currently at home. It is the biggest job I can imagine, but she does it with strength and optimism, while loving each and every one of us unconditionally. So, now that you have a better idea of where I come from and a little about my family, I will tell you a bit more about myself.

My wonderful family

When I got into high school I was eager to get involved with extracurricular activities and meet new people. I’m very outgoing and open to new things so I was quick to join clubs, sports team, introduce myself to new people and learn as much as I could. In grade 9, I tried out for every sports team I could. I made the basketball team, volleyball, track, and badminton teams. I continued to play on those teams throughout my years in high school and enjoyed them all! I was captain of the basketball team in grade 9, 10, 11, and 12. Balancing sports and my academic classes was not an easy task, but with determination I survived the heavy workload and it made my high school experience very memorable. Sports teach you valuable life lessons that provide you with useful tools for everyday life, such as, how to work as a team, be a leader, accept defeat and be to be a humble winner. High school sports has enriched my life and has provided me with special memories and wonderful friendships.

I love the outdoors and I am always eager to explore the beautiful Madawaska Valley that I call home. My friends and I always enjoy taking a trip out to Algonquin Park in the fall and summer. We spend a lot of our time in the summers going for hikes, canoeing, fishing, beach volleyball, ​​​​​​​​ tubing, swimming, and being with nature. It’s a great way to unwind and relieve stress from our busy summer work schedules. I am a very active person and I love nature, so hiking and exploring is a perfect fit for me. In the winter, I like to stay active by snowboarding and going skating at the outdoor rinks in my area. My sister Anna and I went on a trip out to British Columbia this past March break. It is such a beautiful

Anna and I in BC

province and the scenery is absolutely gorgeous. We went on many hikes, walks by the ocean, and got a taste of what it is like to live by the mountains. We were also lucky enough to drive up to Whistler and see the Olympic Village and the Olympic rings! It was a trip of a life time.

In addition to sports and recreation, I also have a great love for music and the arts. I picked up a guitar at a young age and I fell in love with writing and learning new songs. I love singing, playing piano, hitting the drums, and even try a bit of ukulele and bass guitar. My love for music inspired me in grade 9 to join our school’s music program. I have been in the program every year since and I love everything about it. In grade 9, my three friends and


I started a girl’s band. We all sing and we play various instruments, so we have a vast selection of songs that we can perform. We learn the popular cover songs to perform for various concerts throughout the high school and the community. We are called Phoenix, and still practice together to this day! The love of music and performing runs in my family and each one of my siblings sings and plays an instrument. It’s a great way to bond as a family and a perfect way to relieve stress after a busy day at work or school.

It feels like high school flew by, and I cannot believe my senior year is quickly coming to an end. I have learned many skills and gained plenty of knowledge the past four years and I will graduate knowing that I have made the best of my high school experience.  I am excited to continue my education at the University of Ottawa in the Fall of 2017 as I strive to achieve an Honours Bachelor of Social Science in Criminology degree.

Excited for my new adventure at Ottawa University

The future is so exciting and holds so many unknown adventures!  My first big adventure being a delegate in this year’s Miss Teenage Canada Pageant.  I never would have thought I would have had this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and I am going to absorb every moment of this unique experience.

“Each day is a new life… Seize it!  Live it!”

Until next time,


Written by: Sophia Tagged with:, , , , , , , , , ,
Written by: MTC Blog Team Tagged with:, , , , , , , , , , ,
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Posted On: Categories:Miss Teenage Canada