Age: 21 | Calgary, Alberta
- Your Relationship to Childhood Cancer. I had cancer and so did my mom 6 years after me
Type of cancer that has affected me or my family In 1995 I was diagnosed with acute lympnoblastic leukemia and my mom had ovarian cancer. Number of years on treatment I was on treatment for two and a half years
Number of celebrated years off treatment 13
My toughest challenge with childhood cancer Cancer changed my life. I wasn’t able to go to a regular school with my friends. The year I was diagnosed I was to start grade one in the public system but I was enrolled at a private school instead because there were “less germs,” less chance of catching an infection. In grade three, after two and a half years, or 29 months and 242 needles, my long journey ended and I moved into the big school with all my friends. But because I had missed so much school due to the treatments and the in and out of hospitals, I was behind in my school work. My parents made the decision to hold me back a year. I never really noticed the age gap between myself and my other peers until Junior high when I was getting my learners license long before anyone else, when I had my 16th birthday the summer after I finished grade 9 and when I came to my first day of grade 10 with my own car and no one else in my grade drove yet.
Describe some great things that have come about through your journey of childhood cancer. If there’s one good thing that has come from being sick it would be the Kids Cancer Care Foundation of Alberta (KCCFA). They opened the door to meeting new people. And, if not for KCCFA, I would have never experienced CAMP! It is the one place where we are all equal. No one stares at you because you are bald, or because you have a limp due to surgery, or because you are missing a limb. It is an absolutely magical place! Camp is where I have met some of my best friends.
Describe your Best Day “Best day” and cancer really don’t fit together. Or so you would think. But I can remember good ones, especially when my nurses would take the time to read me a story when tucking me into bed. Tell us about your Worst Day It was December 13, 2001. My mom was booked for surgery but I didn’t know why. I came home from school and my dad was waiting for me. He told me that mom had ovarian cancer. I felt like I was in some other reality, like I was in someone else’s body, thinking, “Why us, why my family—again?” I watched my mom go through everything I did—the chemo, the hair loss and the really bad days. But my mom was strong and she didn’t give up. I thank her for that. I can’t imagine life without her, my best confidant, my best friend.
Tell us what Coast to Coast Against Cancer means to me After participating in Tour For Kids Alberta this summer I have an extreme love and appreciation for the people who are involved behind the scenes and on the bike! The reason I am interested in being an ambassador is to give back to the foundation in an ongoing way by telling my story to others and to inspire others to join the fight against childhood cancer! In reality I bought my bike this past March and then started training for the phenomenal T4K Alberta and I would love for others to do the same. I know that this is a unique and healthy way to raise money for such special people and I want to be a part of ongoing CTCACF activities because of this!
Tell us what your message is to our riders, volunteers, sponsors and all Canadians The most important thing I have taken from my cancer experience is realizing how much we take our lives for granted. We need to take a step back and enjoy the simple pleasures of life. Really…who chooses cancer? It could choose you tomorrow. You could wake up with a lump, or you could find out that the kid next door has cancer, or worse, your own child. In Alberta every year, more than one hundred children are diagnosed with this disease and thousands more are living with its after effects. Cancer kills more children than any other disease. Two out of every 10 children who are diagnosed with cancer loose the battle. But I want you to know that you are truly making a difference in the lives of children with cancer by inspiring others to give back to such an amazing community of children and young adults.
Share with us any other personal thoughts My oncologist, Dr. Coppes, told my parents: “Taylor has a 60 per cent chance of beating leukemia but there is really no 60 per cent, its either 100 or 0—you either make it or you don’t.” And that’s the reality of childhood cancer. I was one of the lucky ones.