I was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia in the year 2000, I was 5 years old. As a child, you really do not understand the complexity of something like blood cancer. So, in actuality, my parents took on more of the mental burden while I took on the physical burden that cancer treatment can cause.
In retrospect, having Leukemia at such a young age and being involved with non-profits such as the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of Canada, has shaped my future in a massive way. My entire family has been philanthropic, even before I got sick. So, when my cousin Brooke made Cookin’ In Brooke’s Kitchen shortly after my diagnosis to raise money for LLSC, it was the perfect fit for our family. Cookin’ in Brooke’s Kitchen was printed and sold with proceeds going to LLSC and even got mention in Chicken Soup for the Pre-Teen soul.
Fast forward almost 20 years later from my diagnosis, I have completed an honours specialization in sociology from Brescia University College, completed a one-year graduate diploma in Not-For-Profit Management through Western University, and have just started a full-time position in the non-profit sector. Over the years when I have heard my parents discuss with someone what we went through as a family with me having chemo for nearly 2 ½ years, they often comment that they are grateful that my diagnosis was caught early and happened in a time when research had developed a treatment protocol for ALL with a 90% success rate for children in my age category. This research happened from generous donors, 30 years prior to a child with ALL would not likely have the outcome that I did.