For Theresa Acchione Parkinson, it’s been 15 years since her father passed away from glioblastoma brain cancer. And while Theresa hadn’t heard of Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada while her dad was alive, a few years after his passing, she discovered the charity soon after moving to Calgary. “It was almost odd – it felt like I started hearing about brain tumours everywhere,” recalls Theresa. “And despite my mourning for Dad, I knew I wanted to give back to other families facing this same battle.
When you look back at Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada’s history, it’s clear that at the heart of the organization are the patients, survivors and loved ones who care for those diagnosed. It’s this amazing community of supporters – even amidst what is often a life-changing journey – who volunteer their time, host fundraising events and donate in memory of those they’ve lost to the disease.
“I look better than ever!” – it’s a statement you might hear when someone is newly retired and finally has the time to workout and eat properly. But for Brian Cole, it’s what comes after that exclamation that sets him apart. “I look better than ever!” he says, continuing, “but I have terminal brain cancer and might not see my retirement now.”
When Team Jack and Lil lace up their sneakers for the 2016 Toronto Brain Tumour Walk, it will be the first time that team captain Lilli takes part in the annual fundraiser. But for Lilli, who named the team after a “term of an endearment” she has for her own brain tumour and the popular Jack and Jill nursery rhyme, it’s also a bittersweet occasion.
This June, 7-year-old Finley Kroeker will take part in the 2016 Winnipeg Brain Tumour Walk for his first time. Over the past two years, Finley has gone through more than what most people do their entire lives – and his brain tumour journey continues still.
The world first heard of Baby Gordie this past spring, when his parents, Joshua and Jerfield, shared their family’s tragic story: Baby Gordie, just one month old, had a rare and aggressive form of brain cancer – one that sadly took his very short life on March 18, 2016.
For the past six years, Candace Graham’s life has been full of ups and downs – a “real rollercoaster,” she says. But still, this 32-year-old doesn’t let her circumstances set the tone for her life. Candace is a brain cancer survivor and this is her incredible story.
For 30-year-old Benoit Poudrier, the past three years have been a journey to say the least. But despite six brain surgeries, meningitis, and blood clots in his legs due to hospital stays, this brain tumour survivor has kept his sense of humour. “I had six brain surgeries total by April 2015, and I certainly don’t want anymore. For me, there’s no tempting Lucky Number 7!”
Patrick lives every day with Kevin. Well, the effects Kevin had on Patrick’s life, that is. Kevin changed Patrick’s life forever, and it all started three and a half years ago in 2012. Kevin is the name Patrick gave his brain tumour.
In a few short days, the Jackowitz family will take part in the annual Hamilton-Niagara Brain Tumour Walk – it’s the first time the family can do this all together, as in 2015, son and brain tumour survivor Michael wasn’t able to participate due to radiation treatments. As team Jacko’s Journey, the family walks in tribute to Michael, 37, and the immense journey he’s been on since 2010.
Gab Rodrigues, 23, says his life changed when at the young age of 7, he first realized his own vulnerability. As a young boy, Gab experienced double vision, night terrors, severe headaches and vomiting – symptoms that took he and his mother doctor to doctor, trying to find a cause for Gab’s debilitating health changes.
Donna hopes she’s at a curve in the road. It’s been a long road since the diagnosis of a non-malignant brain tumour that has been treated with surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. “I never thought I would have to go through all this for a tumour that wasn’t cancerous” said Donna. This is her story.
When Sunday, June 12 arrives this year, sisters Cassie and Lianna, along with members of “Team Mary,” will lace up their sneakers and join hundreds of supporters at Andrew Haydon Park for the 22nd annual Ottawa Brain Tumour Walk. While the day will be full of mixed emotions, the sisters say seeing other families in similar circumstances is comforting and inspirational. Cassie adds, “As hard as it is to do the Brain Tumour Walk, it’s also healing for us. I find it is hard to talk about our mom’s
For any 50-year-old, looking back on a life that’s included solo travel, university, and even a stint working at a tropical resort chain, would be satisfying; but for Debbie Ackerman, what’s even more exceptional is she’s done all these things but is also a childhood brain cancer survivor.
Imagine being able to play football in a weekend game, and a few days later finding out you have a brain tumour – one that would take away your balance and ability to walk. Now imagine you’re 5 years old.
That is the exact situation that the Delisle family found themselves in in late 2013.
Marjory Buttrum is an amazing example of how strength and positivity can come from a negative life experience. In 2008, Marjory’s husband Steve was diagnosed with a brain tumour. After the initial shock of the diagnosis, the family rallied as he began treatment that would include surgery, radiation and chemotherapy. Early in this process, the Buttrums were introduced to the resources available through Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada, which were an invaluable support during a difficult time.
Natalie lends a compassionate ear to anyone who wants to share their story, which has helped her in more ways than one. The brain tumour community residing in London will have seen Natalie at Brain Tumour Walk events in previous years and at BrainWAVE events. Natalie has lost two dear ones to brain tumours and became involved with Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada to help support other people on their brain tumour journey.
Just because you leave your white lab coat in your closet doesn’t mean you have left that life behind. Chris Wynder wanted to find a way to be part of the brain tumour community when he left the laboratory for a new adventure in IT. So he started volunteering with Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada so he could find that connection. Chris was a brain tumour scientist; he left that chapter behind and moved to London with his family.
Living in Northern Canada changes the meaning of friends and family. Friends become like family because of proximity, which is exactly what happened with the Sellars and Trimble families. When Trevor Sellars was diagnosed with a brain tumour in 2011, this bond between the two families became even stronger... This is how Lauren Trimble-Nixon & Duncan Nixon first heard about Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada.
It was just a toddler taking a tumble down a couple of stairs. The doctors tried to reassure Mom that all was probably okay. But Dustin’s Mom knew that something wasn’t right. Time would prove that her instincts were correct.
Most people look forward to anniversaries. Ron Tiessen’s anniversary is a little different to most. In August 2016 he will mark 30 years as a brain tumour survivor! In that time, Ron has had 6 brain tumours, 7 liver tumours and is being watched for further tumour growth. After 29 and a half years, Ron is still celebrating life through music as he was when this all began.
Full of life, excited for upcoming family trips and radiating joy, to speak to Victoria Burghardt, you’d never know that she has a brain tumour. Until earlier last year, neither did she. “I’d never even heard of brain tumours before my diagnosis” said Victoria.
At the young age of 10, Marie-Chantal had major brain surgery that would save her life.
That experience has had a lasting impact on Marie-Chantal to this day: She now shares her journey growing up a pediatric brain tumour survivor to encourage others navigating a diagnosis to access the services to which they are entitled to, and to help them heal globally, not just physically.
When an odd stroke of luck ended up with Winnipeg firefighter Rick Negrich getting a CT scan, the last thing he expected was to be diagnosed with a brain tumour.
In January 2013, Rick was working a Friday on-shift at a local firehall when his crew got a call. While on dispatch to the scene, Rick’s fire truck was t-boned at an intersection, with Rick’s head hitting the side of the truck so hard he saw stars.
Friendships often start when least expected, but for Ellen Erenberg, a professional artist and art instructor, the bond she formed with Erin Voss was unmistakeable.
Ellen and Erin first met several years ago, when Erin was in her late teens and taking one of Ellen’s art classes. Like many young adults, Erin was soon off to college and needed to step back from her lessons with Ellen. “I didn’t see her again until after she was ill and had surgery,” recalls Ellen.