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It’s been almost three years since the Lumley-Metcalfe family was shaken by their four-year-old daughter’s brain tumour diagnosis. Looking back on those challenging times, Mom Karen says their two children, McKenna, now seven, and her younger brother Blake, “don’t really remember the negatives, but they do remember the amazing people they met along the way.”
The family’s journey has been one full of strength and hope, as they travelled between Windsor to London for doctor’s appointments and McKenna’s two surgeries to remove the non-malignant mass. Asking Karen about how her family coped with her daughter’s diagnosis, she reflects on those times and remembers how soon after their arrival at London Children’s Hospital that they received the Pediatric Brain Tumour Handbook. “We were there at 11:00 at night, and the very next morning we got the handbook. Our doctor even wrote down specific details about McKenna’s tumour in it.”
It was a valuable tool for the family, especially for Karen’s husband Brett, who looked unfailingly to the book for information about treatment options and more. Karen credits the handbook as something that helped everyone prepare for what was to come with McKenna’s treatments. “We could go to appointments and come back home to double check on things we heard, or even misremembered. That was big for us – we could focus on facts, not our interpretation of them.”
The Lumley-Metcalfes became involved with Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada soon after McKenna’s diagnosis and surgeries, at first with the Windsor Spring Sprint. The family’s team has raised almost $10,000 annually since the 2010 Spring Sprint, and as Karen explains, it’s important for them to stay involved.
“It’s such a big part of our lives now, giving back to those who’ve helped us. Helping the brain tumour community is a daily mission for our family.”
Karen has volunteered as a reviewer for the Non-Malignant Brain Tumour Handbook and new sixth edition Pediatric Brain Tumour Handbook. “When I look at what Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada does every day and how they help change people’s lives, I like to be connected to that. It feels like I can contribute to something more important than some of my daily activities. It’s a lifelong relationship now [with the organization], and I feel honoured when asked to be involved with things like this.”
Today McKenna is doing well and even giving presentations at local charitable events, sharing her story with audiences across southwest Ontario. McKenna still has a rivet left in her head from her surgeries, but it doesn’t faze her.
“She developed a good sense of humour throughout this whole experience,” adds Karen. “If someone asked me how McKenna was doing now, I’d say she was more than fine. She’s great!”
Give today to bring hope and support to survivors like McKenna and their families like Karen.
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