Chelsie Shade

2013 Scholarship Recipient

“I worked by lamplight at night in our room at Ronald McDonald House, so Angelo could sleep, while I studied. It was tough, seeing him go through that, while also focusing on school, but we did it.” Chelsie Shade

She may be only 19, but Chelsie Shade already exhibits a maturity and tenacity far beyond her years. She’s been through cancer twice — her own and now her son’s — and, with your help, she’s moving beyond her cancer experiences and following her dream of becoming a pediatric nurse.

When Chelsie was 17 months old, she was diagnosed with bilateral retinoblastoma, a rare but highly aggressive and hereditary eye cancer. Within hours of diagnosis, she and her parents were transferred to the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, where Chelsie received emergency surgery to remove the left eye and save her life.

But that wasn’t the end of it.

For years, Chelsie and her parents travelled to and from Toronto every few weeks, so she could access the specialized treatments and technology necessary to treat and monitor her good eye. The emotional and financial toll on the family was enormous.

When Chelsie was finally deemed cancer-free, she learned that she would have to continue making that same trip every few weeks for years to come. This time, Chelsie was the mother and her nine-day-old baby boy was in need of the specialized treatment and follow up available in Toronto. 

Growing up partially blind and with a prosthetic eye, Chelsie was determined to spare her son this fate. She fought hard with the doctors to save Angelo’s eye. But the threat of losing Angelo or his eyes is never far away.

Despite travelling to Toronto every few weeks for Angelo’s treatments and monitoring, the single mother from the Bloodtribe of Southern Alberta, managed to stay in school and graduate from high school.

“We’ve survived two years of stress and hardship with my Angelo’s cancer,” says Chelsie. “I took a year off school in 2011 to be in Toronto for his cancer treatments, but I enrolled in online schooling and managed to finish three courses that year.”

Thanks to you, Chelsie is now attending the University of Lethbridge, where she is working toward a degree in nursing with the help of a $2,500 bursary from the Kids Cancer Care Derek Wandzura Memorial Scholarship program.

“I’m planning to pursue a career in pediatric nursing, possibly in oncology, as I have survived my own cancer and now my son’s. I want to help children like Angelo.”