Bald Is Beautiful Take Two!

We’d like to introduce you to the lovely Andrea. She’s making a difference in the lives of children affected by cancer by shaving her lid for a kid, not once, but twice! Read below and find out why Andrea’s hooked on Kids Cancer Care!

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Roses are red
Violets are blue
I’m shaving my head
and I’m asking for donations from YOU! 

If my poetic talent is not enough to entice you to donate to my shave, then keep reading!

My name is Andrea, I am 21 years old and I love dogs (not relevant, but it’s an important thing about me).

On June 15, 2015 I will be shaving off all of my hair in support of the Kids Cancer Care Foundation.

In 2007, I participated in Shave Your Lid for a Kid to raise money for children and families affected by childhood cancer. The first time I did the shave, I did not know very much about the Kids Cancer Care Foundation, but after shaving my head in June of that year, my mom and I were invited out to visit Camp Kindle. I was hooked. Since 2007, I have volunteered as a camp counsellor at Camp Kindle (KCC’s amazing camp) numerous times, as well as I have volunteered at events in Calgary. I am continuously amazed by everyone who is apart of the organization.

I have worked hands on with some of the most amazing children I’ve ever met and their incredible families. I wish I had the words to explain how truly magical Camp Kindle is and how inspiring the campers are. I hope you will take my word for it though, and that you will help me to send more kids to camp. The money that I raise from shaving my head will go towards sending kids to camp as well as cancer research. I have seen first hand the positive impact that going to camp can have, and I want desperately to do what I can to make that possible for as many children as I can. While volunteering at Camp Kindle I have had the privilege of meeting many of the nurses who work in paediatric oncology as well as Kids Cancer Care’s program staff and they all work so hard to help keep these children’s spirits lifted. I want to do whatever I can to support that.

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Please help me in whatever way that you are able to support the most amazing organization that I can think of. Any amount that you are able to donate is immensely appreciated. I am aiming to beat the amount that I raised in 2007 which was $5100! I am also planning some fundraisers over the next few months, so stay posted for information about those!

Thank you in advance for your support. To donate, please visit https://secure.csfm.com/kidscancer/shaveyourlidforakid/home/profile.php?participant_id=812858111426479959.

Andrea

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Gone too soon

Last week was a devastating week. Cancer unleashed its destructive and erratic nature, and took the lives of two young girls in the same day. Two families are mourning the loss of their little girls that were too young, too innocent and with too much life left to live. Cancer robbed 18-year-old Gillian O’Blenes-Kaufman of her chance to experience the world and fulfill her dreams. And it robbed nine-year-old Diamond Marshall of her chance to grow up. Our hearts break at the injustice.

Gillian was a gifted artist and dancer, who had an enthusiasm for living that showed in every aspect of her life. She lived more in her short 18 years than most people live in 90. In May, 2013, Gillian was diagnosed with a bone cancer that had already spread to her lungs. The resulting prognosis was not good. While some people would have given-up, Gillian refused to. Her resolve to accomplish her dreams only grew and resulted in living a life that inspired many. Gillian took the world by storm and was able to check off many items on her bucket-list, such as: travelling to Greece, graduating high school with honours, designing a helmet for Brad Spence, an Olympic skier, marrying her high-school sweetheart, going on a mission trip to Mexico and completing a semester at ACAD with straight A’s. Gillian’s life was full and bright and she will be missed by many.

Diamond’s name perfectly captured her essence. Her light shinned so brightly, she captured the hearts of the world, including a princess. When Diamond was diagnosed with adrenal cancer at the age of five, she became fascinated with Prince William and Kate, while watching their wedding from her hospital bed. She told The Children’s Wish Foundation that her dream was to one day meet a princess. On July 7, 2011, the foundation helped make that dream come true and the world fell in love with the sweet little girl who gave Kate such a warm embrace. What Diamond may not have realised, was the lasting affect she had on all of us, including the Royal couple. Diamond was also the inspiration behind the Hockey Marathon for Kids and she will continue to be the reason many will lace up their skates. Diamond’s memory will continue to shine brightly and she will forever be missed.

To Gillian and Diamond’s family and friends, we grieve alongside you. We are angry that these two beautiful young ladies lives were cut short and that cancer was the cause. To the doctors, nurses and caregivers that helped Gillian, Diamond and their families, our thoughts are with you. We know that every patient has a special place in your hearts and that losing two bright souls in one day is devastating.

There is no place in this world for childhood cancer. It’s unacceptable, plain and simple. In 2015, 160 children will be diagnosed with cancer right here in Alberta. That number is staggering and it should shock and anger you. The lives of these children matter and the lives of Gillian and Diamond matter.

 

Christine McIver, M.S.M., CFRE
Chief Executive Officer
Kids Cancer Care Foundation of Alberta

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Gillian O’Blenes-Kaufman

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Diamond Marshall

 

 

 

 

 

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Take a chance on the High Ropes Course

One of the most treasured activities at Camp Kindle has to be the High Ropes Course. Built in 2012 along with its sister facility the Low Ropes Course, The high ropes course has been creating happy memories for camp guests ever since.

Labelled “the cadillac of rope courses” by some, it was specially designed for the enjoyment of children and teens and is fully accessible to those with mobility issues. Adults are totally welcome to partake as well, and regress to childhood as required.

Ten meters high at its highest point, the high ropes course is actually composed of four areas; the static course, climbing wall and team’s pod. The static course is best described as an obstacle course in the sky. After a quick lesson on the ground about how to clip in, the climber is set loose to cross increasingly rickety looking bridges strung pole to pole above. The best part is saved for last because there is only one way to get down: the zip line! The climbing wall allows up to four people to ascend at once and is where one is most likely to see the tenacity and ferocity it takes to beat cancer on display. Almost everyone makes it to the top to the sound of cheers from below (no clapping because that would mean someone let go of the belay rope). Lastly the team’s pod, the writer’s personal favourite, is designed to present obstacles which require teamwork to ascend. I have witnessed absolute miracles of teamwork over the years from our campers and it has solidified my opinion this next generation – far from being lost or lethargic despite proclamations to the contrary – is capable of great feats of heroism and generosity.

Part of the high ropes course’s magic is due to its ability to generate experiences far outside one’s normal daily routine. It’s not everyday you zoom down a zipline or or wave to your friends ten meters below. I think it also establishes for campers the oft cited importance of getting outside of one’s comfort zone. It gives campers, no matter how far up they manage to get, an early feeling of success to build on outside of camp.

Kids Cancer Care’s title motto is kids can. In large part because of what I’ve witnessed at the high ropes course as a volunteer, I’ve become a complete devotee to this focus. These kids can climb, dance, sing, run, and jump, and I find myself constantly referring back to the organization’s motto to cajole and encourage campers to try their best. If you are reading this thinking, “yes, kids can do anything!” I would encourage the reader to consider any special volunteer skills they might have or booking the facility for one’s next team building exercise which helps contribute to the continued maintenance of the site. In any case, please remember kids can do anything – including thrive again after surviving cancer.

Blair

 

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Dad & Daughter Frozen Gala – Celia’s story

 

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Bob & Celia presenting at the Dad & Daughter Gala.

One of the perks of Bob’s job with TD is that he often represents the bank at community events. Ironically this is how our family was first introduced to the amazing work of Kids Cancer Care. Shortly after we relocated to Calgary, Bob took Celia to her first Dad and Daughter Gala, a sold-out fundraiser the organization hosts each October. At three, Celia was enchanted by the fancy affair and refused to leave the dance floor where she twirled around, proudly displaying a tiny wrist corsage. Celia begged to add sparkly eye shadow and lip gloss to her formal wear the next year, which was when she learned that not everyone wins a door prize, much to her four year-old disappointment. Last year Bob held onto the tickets as long as possible before accepting that his five year-old date was too sick to go anywhere. Of all things missed during Celia’s illness, the Dad and Daughter Gala seemed to hit Bob the hardest.

Celia and I spent an entire afternoon shopping for the perfect accessories to compliment her simple but pretty blue and purple dress. By the time we left the mall, I was exhausted and Celia could not wait to get home to put on a fashion show. Her favourite find was a hair band with an oversized flower to perfectly cover her bald spot. Of course it was silver, much like the purse, shoes and tights she selected. Paying no attention to price tags, I tried to enjoy the experience, thinking that it could be the closest thing to prom we might ever have. Getting caught up in the girly moment, I sprung for a fancy Christmas outfit as well, treating Celia to her first pair of teeny tiny black patent heels. I laughed to myself, envisioning a holiday photo with Celia looking Sears catalogue perfect next to her grubby brother who would undoubtedly fight me over wearing anything with a collar.

Celia typically shies away from the spotlight, especially when it has anything to do with her having cancer.  So, mentally we prepared Celia for the gala, seeking permission to show pictures of times during treatment she might rather forget. Initial resistance led to an important discussion about our family’s responsibility, which seemed to resonate with both kids. By the time Saturday arrived, Celia had just aced a TV interview, which gave her the necessary confidence to follow Bob onto stage in front of more than 800, where she sat up high on a bar stool. I was nervous and proud as Bob began, allowing himself to be so incredibly vulnerable. Only a few minutes into things, when a tasteful image of Bob’s above the heart Be Brave Be Strong tattoo was displayed, the audience cheered. I had planned to look around to observe reactions but instead found myself glued to the little girl on stage, staring up at her dad with so much love and admiration. Borrowing Bob’s seat at the front row table, I was among friends, sandwiched between two amazing dads we met on the Oncology unit of the hospital.

The Frozen themed gala featured live reindeer, ice sculptures, karaoke, glass jewelry making and more. Celia was especially fond of the pre-dinner entertainment featuring Elsa and Anna as well as the candy bar. Over three hundred thousand dollars was raised to fund pediatric cancer interests, which is amazing. But, based on the standing ovation, I’m willing to bet that what many will remember of this year’s gala is the story told by one father about his unbreakable family and inspiring little daughter. Bob was approached countless times after his speech with offers of support and congratulations. One dad shared that he lost his son Jason five years ago to AT/RT and Bob felt an instant bond of human connection. After someone tweeted to say that he had never been more moved by a story, we couldn’t help but wonder if the audience had been cheated a little. Imagine if they knew that we were days away from knowing whether or not Celia was terminal.

You go through life knowing that certain decisions will impact the course of your life – who you marry, whether or not you get a particular job, or change cities. In all of these examples, you maintain some control, the ability to influence the outcome. Leading up to today’s MRI we could do nothing but think positive, willing the universe to deliver a miracle. Be Brave, Be Strong…we both thought as the phone rang and we were too scared to exhale. Today’s MRI conclusively determined that Celia remains CANCER FREE! The three lesions on Celia’s brain are necrosis (areas of post-radiation damage), which appear stable and may actually be shrinking. In addition, the swelling (edema) surrounding these lesions has gone down since the last nightmarish imaging. We are on top of the world, although too tired to celebrate, or tonight at least. Watch out world, Celia Jane Yarish is unstoppable (and thankfully also completely oblivious to the last six weeks of torture). BBBS

Brandie Yarish

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Remembering children lost to cancer

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“Here in the heart of me, that’s where you’ll always be.” I am told that one of the greatest fears of families who lose a child to cancer is that their child will be forgotten. More than anything, they want to keep their child alive, if not in body, then at very least, in their hearts and in the hearts of others. On the evening of September 30th, some 20 families affected by childhood cancer gathered at Eau Claire Market to do just that: honour the lives and memories of children taken by cancer. Not losing sight of the family nature of Kids Cancer Care, Time To Remember was suitably child-friendly with hot chocolate to warm our spirits as kids and parents of all ages crafted lanterns in honour of their lost loved ones. Each family, each individual, brings their own special meaning to Time to Remember. I brought the only thing I could, a sincere desire to show solidarity with these families. In talking with families, I discovered that the experience of Time to Remember does not begin at 7 pm when they arrive at Eau Claire; it starts in the morning as they begin rummaging through old photos to choose just the right one for their lantern, each photo stirring new memories. Time to Remember is a ritual, a rite, that begins early in the day and goes deep into the night. It brings families from all walks of life together to witness and share in their common loss. The symbolism of the warm light of the lanterns cutting through the darkness was not lost on the group meandering through Prince’s Island Park.  The procession of families arrived at its destination, the amphitheatre of Market Square, where each family placed their child’s lantern. Gathered around the soft glow of these tiny lanterns, the group shared in a singing of Daniel Lavoie’s, Here in the heart of me. And with those words echoing through the night, Childhood Cancer Awareness Month came to a close. Time to Remember is a fitting close to Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, an international initiative designed to illuminate the tragedy of childhood cancer and its devastating wake. With an overall survival rate of 82% for Canadian children with cancer, it is easy to lose sight of the work that remains. And yet, despite huge advances in research and care, childhood cancer is still the number one disease killing children today. So what of the children who do not make it? What of the families who lose these children? While remembering there children, Time to Remember reminds us of the work to be done–a cure for every child. You can easily fall into despondency when considering such tragedy, but hearing the families’ stories and how they have come through somehow offers you a healthy perspective on how best to support them–even if it’s as simple as just showing up. I find it difficult to summarize the diverse experiences of these families into one message, but if I had to choose, it would be to always react to life positively and in such a way that honours its fragility and impermanence.

–BB and AC

PS. You can get a sense of the evening from this photo collage of Time to Remember 2013, created by Monique de St. Croix of Unique Perspectives. We’re working on our photo collage for the 2014 event, so be sure to check back here or on our YouTube channel.

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My understanding of Kids Cancer Care and childhood cancer

My name is Khadija Samoylove and I have just started a practicum for the fall semester working with teens at Kids Cancer Care. I am currently in my final year at the University of Calgary in the Kinesiology program, and I am specializing in exercise and health physiology.

For my first project, I was asked to provide a small report outlining my current understanding of childhood cancer and Kids Cancer Care. I hope to look at this after my practicum and see where I stand then compared to what I know right now.

Cancer has always been a disease that scares me. Through all the research done, we are still not 100 per cent confident that it can be conquered. It is even more frightening thinking about having to deal with cancer as a child. When I think of childhood, I think of drinking juice boxes with friends on the playground and running around to play tag, not awaiting treatment in the hospital.

Through school, I was aware that leukemia was the most common type of childhood cancer, but I was unaware of the fact that lymphomas and brain tumors are also very common, as well as solid tumours. It is however, somewhat hopeful to know that children do respond better to treatment and are often able to survive cancer and go on to live fulfilling lives.

I have always been familiar with the general treatment types: chemotherapy, radiation and surgery. However, I was unaware of how drastic and hard some treatment types are, specifically bone marrow transplants. It is extremely hard to imagine having to undergo such treatment and being kept in isolation for such a long period of time.

Having a better understanding of childhood cancer and how it affects the children and the parents gives me a better idea of how important Kids Cancer Care is for these families. I was blown away by just how many programs and different aspects of support the foundation offers. It is my firm belief that children and teens of all ages and abilities should have some sort of support system, whether it is through their families or friends or other organizations. Kids Cancer Care is absolutely amazing at providing this. The fact that they have camps, activities, leadership programs, fun nights and simple acts of just giving back is making sure that kids and families affected by cancer have support in every way possible.

The importance of providing such support is immense. From my own experiences, leadership camps and having support throughout my childhood did wonders for my self-esteem and helped shape the person I am today. From that I can understand just how beneficial Kids Cancer Care is for kids who are dealing with much more than I could ever imagine.

I have already learned so much more about Kids Cancer Care and childhood cancer in the first week of being involved and I am looking forward to learning so much more! I am incredibly excited, and honestly a little nervous as I begin getting more deeply involved. I hope to provide the kids I am helping with as much knowledge and positive change as I know they are going to give me. Working over the rest of the semester with Kids Cancer Care is definitely going to be an amazing experience and one that I hope will help point me in the direction of a career path I would like to take in the future.

Most importantly, September is coincidentally Childhood Cancer Awareness Month! It is not too late to get involved and provide a little more joy into a child’s life. We know that the smallest things can make a huge impact, so anything and everything helps. Thank you!

Khadija Samoylove

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September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month

It’s Childhood Cancer Awareness month, so what does pediatric cancer really look like? The Huffington Post captures stories and portraits from several young patients.

In honour of Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, a generous donor has agreed to match ANY and ALL donations made in the month of September. We encourage you to go online and donate today. Double your gift, double your impact.

 

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Making the Most of Your Donation

At Kids Cancer Care we pride ourselves on running cost-effective fundraising programs to ensure funds raised and donated goes directly towards supporting kids and families affected by cancer. Through your pledged donation to a shavee in the Shave Your Lid for a Kid!® program, we can ensure you that we are working hard behind the scenes to guarantee your donation makes a huge impact on the lives of those who need it the most.

The Shave Your Lid for a Kid!® program is sponsored by Trico Homes, 98-5 VIRGIN Radio, The Calgary Sun, Pattison Outdoor and Delmar Hair School. Due to our partnerships with these wonderful companies, we are able to keep program costs minimal, ensuring the money raised goes directly to supporting youth and families affected by cancer. Click here to learn more about where your donation goes. For further information please email syl@kidscancercare.ab.ca.

Thank you for your support of the Shave Your Lid for a Kid!® program.Whether you are a program participant or a donor, your support helps us to fight childhood cancer on four fronts—with laughter at camp, the best care at the hospital, innovative science in the lab and by making brighter futures possible with post-secondary education scholarships a reality.

Click here to watch this year’s Foundation video and visit kidscancercare.ab.ca to learn more about our foundation.

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No Regrets!

Sherri and her co-worker Ashlee decided to make a positive impact in the lives of those affected by cancer by shaving their lids for a kid. Sherri knows first hand the affects cancer can have on a person and the ones who love them. This is her shave story….
On October 9, 2013 I shaved my head for Kids Cancer Care in honor of my grandmother, Mary McKeage, and my friend Johan Groneman, who both passed away in 2013. I wanted to do something to acknowledge how inspiring they were and are to me; especially after their cancer diagnoses. The dignity with which both of them accepted their illness and their decision to live life to the fullest was apparent in how they lived the remainder of their lives.
I had no idea the effect this shave would have on me and others around me.

My six year old daughter is so proud of me that she said she will shave her head for Kids Cancer Care when she’s an adult. My mom cried because she couldn’t believe how brave I am (her words, not mine). My brother donated $1000 because he was so proud of me and wanted to do something good with his money.  Everyone had something wonderful and inspiring and supportive to say to me and my coworker, Ashlee, who did it with me.

Five days ago, I had my bachelorette at a nightclub. At one point in the night, I got really sad and took off my veil, garter and feather boa and threw them on the table with tears welling up in my eyes. My friend asked me what was wrong, “everyone thinks I’m sick and it makes me feel really sad for people who ARE sick ,” I said. I’m happy I decided to donate my hair to Angel Hair for Kids to be made into a wig. That night, people came up to me and gave me high fives and bought me drinks, others thanked me for what I did and hugged me.

This has been an amazing experience. I feel that I have brought some awareness to this cause and that makes me feel great!  I have no regrets.

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Community Shave Breaks Fundraising Goal!

On Saturday, September 7 Kids Cancer Care hosted our first annual Shave Your Lid for a Kid!® community shave event at the Trico Centre for Family Wellness. 23 brave individuals rose to the challenge of shaving or cutting and donating their hair, in support of youth and families affected by cancer. This brave move not only raised essential funds for Kids Cancer Care but showed moral support for those who lose their hair during cancer treatments.
Four ladies generously donated their hair at the event, which will go to Angel Hair for a Kids; a foundation that provides wigs to kids at no cost, right here in Canada. Diane V. was so inspired by the event that she decided, on the spot, to cut and donate her hair. She even spent an hour walking around the Trico Centre requesting donations and raised $170—Go Diane!
The event was filled with excitement as Tyler Hall from 98-5 VIRGIN Radio got his head shaved by 13 year old cancer survivor Johann— watch the videohere! Some honorable mentions from the event are James D. making a special commute from Edmonton to participate in this event, Western Direct Insurance and its employees donating close to $3000 and to the 10 month-year-old baby who broke a shave record by being the youngest shavee! Even Mayor Nenshi made an appearance at the event to thank event participants for their support. 
A special thank you to our shaving experts Rick, Renee, Trish and Jessie from Tommy Gun’s Original Barbershop, who volunteered their services to help shave heads. Click hereto learn more their famous hot shave and new location in Deerfoot Meadows!
Kids Cancer Care would also like to extend a thank you to Trico Homes who provided volunteers to help out on event day as well as eight shavees! Thank you to our promotional partners 98-5 VIRGIN Radio and the Calgary Sun for helping us share our message. Last but not least, thank you Trico Centre for Family Wellness for providing us with the wonderful space to host our event.
Because of the amazing support of our event participants, donors and sponsors, we were able to raise close to $20,000; $5,000 over our goal! The money raised from this event will go towards Kids Cancer Care’s four programming areas — cancer research, hospital support programs, camp and community programs and scholarships.
Click here to see photos from event day!
Click here to learn more about the community shave event participants or to donate and help us break $20,000!

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