Family Raising Funds in the Hope of a Cure

Family Raising Funds in the Hope of a Cure

In early 2010, Karen Metcalfe and Brett Lumley were typical busy parents with a young daughter and two and a half year old son. Then, one day, four-year old McKenna started complaining of neck pain, throwing up in the very early hours of the morning and having problems with balance – it was the beginning of knowing there was something not right. When she was diagnosed with a brain tumour several weeks later, the entire extended family and community pulled together. Today, Karen, Brett, McKenna and Blake are eager to give back to the community as part of the upcoming Windsor Spring Sprint  (now Brain Tumour Walk) in support of Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada.

A consultant who works from home, Karen recalls that doctors first suspected the flu when McKenna complained of neck pain and began vomiting. After three weeks of ongoing symptoms, a trip to the Emergency Room at Windsor Regional Hospital resulted in an MRI that found a four by five centimetre tumour in McKenna’s cerebellum, a Pilocytic Astrocytoma. She was rushed to London’s Children's Hospital and within 36 hours of arrival, McKenna underwent a 12-hour surgery. A few days later, she had a second surgery and was in critical care for over a week. Family and friends rallied together during this time, caring for Blake and supporting the family in many other ways.

The support offered by Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada was also important to the family. “It was the handbook for my husband. He really needed to learn what he could and referred to it often while we were there. In the hospital the handbook was an invaluable resource and one that we continue to refer to,” recalls Karen. “And whenever there’s a Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada event, we are sure to go.”

Because of their incredible journey, this family is eager to give back. They began with the 2010 Windsor Spring Sprint and with the help of family and friends raised $10,000. Karen explains the family’s continued motivation: “I’d like them to do more and find out if there are things that can be done to prevent brain tumours. We don’t know what McKenna’s future holds and I couldn’t forgive myself if I hadn’t supported research and services she may need in the future.

We were celebrating last year but it didn’t pass us by that there were people walking in memory of those they love. I want McKenna and Blake to know that it’s important to help others.”

As for her recommendation to others, “I think you have to take it one step at a time and not think about the possibilities but deal with the facts you are given. My husband and I made the decision when we first heard the word tumour that we can’t control it so we focus on what we can,” remembers Karen.

“If people could see how much good a simple handbook does and that when this happens that there is an organization that could help us, I know they’d want to give. We didn’t raise $10,000 with large donations, even a small amount makes a big difference. My connection to Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada is for life and it makes me feel like I can and should do something.”

You can read the media release about Mckenna and her family here.

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Story posted: May 2011

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