Volunteers Ensure Families in BC Have Hope and Support

Volunteers Ensure Families in BC Have Hope and Support

Families in British Columbia with a child with a brain tumour once had nowhere to turn for help and support but a few years ago this changed as a result of the dedication, hard work, and determination of two women.

Together, volunteers Kathy Thornton and Jacqueline Huff have brought the BrainWAVE program to the brain tumour community in B.C. Today, BrainWAVE is an integral part of many families’ lives, offering a rewarding outlet to bond and support one another on the journey with a pediatric brain tumour.

Kathy, a brain tumour survivor, first became involved with Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada during a weekend visit to Calgary for the annual Brain Tumour Information Day conference in 2007. As a result of her brain tumour, Kathy’s career in corporate human resources management was cut short and she found herself on disability. This change has provided her with an opportunity to give back to the community and help others. She has been BrainWAVE BC’s co-coordinator for the past four years. She coordinates this program in partnership with Jacqueline, who found out about the organization for her own, very different reason.

Jacqueline has twin boys. When Quinlan, one of her twins was seven years old, he was diagnosed with a brain tumour. Quinlan then went through surgery in 2004, where 95 per cent of the tumour was removed. This was followed by 18 months of chemotherapy, and he has battled seizures for several years as an after affect of the brain tumour. The family is thankful that since 2009, Quinlan has been stable. “Before my involvement, I didn’t know Kathy,” said Jacqueline. “Since my involvement, and since meeting Kathy, we have banded together to bring this issue to the forefront of Lower Mainland BC residents, offering support and an outlet to share their stories.”

Together, Kathy and Jacqueline lead a small team of volunteers in BC who work together to coordinate three to four BrainWAVE events per year. These events often include roundtable sessions led by parents of children affected by brain tumours and respite-focused activities – much needed for the patient and the whole family. .

Both women find their involvement with BrainWAVE greatly rewarding, and a fundamental part of their lives. Kathy’s battle with a brain tumour motivates her to continue her efforts with the organization. “I came out of my battle with a brain tumour and thought to myself that I’m healthy, so why not put my efforts towards raising awareness about the disease in my BC community,” said Kathy. “Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada is a fantastic organization that supports and encourages our efforts to help people.”

Jacqueline’s primary goal is to raise awareness for under-funded pediatric brain tumour research. Jacqueline is thankful for the positivity and support shown to her by the organization.

When she isn’t volunteering with the organization, Kathy gives of her time in other ways including with her church. She also sponsors two children, one from Cambodia and one from Tanzania. Jacqueline is thankful to be able to work part-time from home, which allows her to spend time with her family and dog.

Because they each find solace in seeing young children overcome the disease and connecting with one another during the events, both women value their volunteer time. For example, the recent harbour cruise holds a special place in both of their hearts.

Thank you, Jacqueline and Kathy, for your dedication to the BrainWAVE families of BC. Your teamwork and commitment are truly an inspiration.

Story posted: March 2011

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