Daughter Honours Father’s Journey with a Brain Tumour

When Samantha Howes was a teenager, she lost her father to the brain tumour he had battled for many years. Today, she is a Bampton-based graphic designer and is continuing to honour her dad’s courage with inspiring and creative efforts. This May, she will take part in the David Bloom Memorial Brampton Spring Sprint  (now Brain Tumour Walk).

In June 1985, Samantha was six years old and one day her father experienced a grand mal seizure. This unexpected event was initially blamed on stress. Not long afterwards however, a CT scan was performed which lead to surgery on Samantha’s July 4th birthday. The operation revealed an Anaplastic Astrocytoma, grade three brain tumour. “I remember having my seventh birthday in that waiting room. It meant a lot to me that my mom made it happen after hearing that my dad had cancer,” recalls Samantha. “We had a birthday cake with paper plates and plastic forks at the hospital. We had a happy birthday in an effort to have normalcy in our lives.”

Through to her early teen years Samantha remembers spending a lot of time with her extended family as Dad was in and out of treatments – radiation, chemotherapy, blood work and MRIs. Then in the summer of 1995, doctors realized that the tumour was growing faster than the chemotherapy could treat it. They shared with the family that the upcoming Christmas celebrations would likely be their last together.

While the loss of her father at such a young age was tragic, Samantha remembers the 17 years she had him in her life and encourages others to, “Never give up hope. It’s the only thing I would tell to someone with a brain tumour or someone who knows someone who is affected,” Samantha says, “hope makes a big difference.”

She is also grateful for the hope and support offered by Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada to her family when they needed it most. “After the first surgery mom and dad went to these support groups called the Brainy Bunch. It was a good place for Dad to ask questions and get answers. It was a good place to meet others in the same situation and get the real human experience from others.”

It’s because of those good memories that Samantha is supporting the Brampton Spring Sprint. “It was like I was able to re-know my dad. As much as it is still painful, it’s nice to have your memories confirmed and have the opportunity to remember my dad while getting to know his story better,” Samantha reflects. “Last year when I participated I made a hat and I molded a brain on the cap because I thought it would be eye catching and raise awareness. Sometimes it takes something silly to drive home the point and in turn they’ll remember Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada and why there are so many people there.” 

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Story posted: April 2011

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