Directors of Fundraising
Cecilia Maerov and Gayle Nelson
Dave & Suzanne Dunbar
What followed was a tense two years of constant medical follow ups and MRI’s … but, no Cancer. Then the devastating news that Quinn’s cancer returned (in Oct. ’05), as a new brain tumour and a spinal tumour showed up on the MRI checkup. Since then it has been a non-stop battle with Chemotherapy, sickness, specialized radiation treatment in the USA. and the constant search for a cure. Throughout all of this, Quinn (now 12.1/2 yrs old and a Grade 7 student) has remained very bright and cheery – a model student for his teachers and a model patient for his doctors and nurses. It was only through the great help of family, friends, church, Quinn’s elementary school and many unnamed others that have kept this journey from becoming unbearable. It was during the two years where we thought we had cancer beat that we discovered CCFS. We decided to get involved, as we saw many families without the kind of support that we rec’d. Also due to the fact that we were shocked by the costs that families incur, and what our medical system didn’t cover. (We understand why some families lose their cars, their homes and sometimes their marriages – financial pressure is the last thing they need when they have a child, sick with Cancer!)
Brendan Whieldon was a little dynamo from the moment he was born. Travelling to 13 countries and having made 60 flights before the age of 4, he was an athlete on the move. He’s flown over geysers in New Zealand and snorkelled on the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. He rode away the second his grandfather took the training wheels off his bike and has never looked back. Diagnosed with Stage 4 Neuroblastoma at age 4, he was doing jumps and skiing through the trees, ten days after major abdominal surgery to remove his tumour. Despite induction chemotherapy and transplant, the metastatic Neuroblastoma cells had never completely cleared from Brendan’s bone marrow. 45 radiation treatments and over 120 rounds of chemotherapy could not slow him down, so after 8.5 years of fighting cancer, at the magical age of 13 his body cleared his cancer and healed his kidneys leaving him to embark on his teenage years, cancer free, with a whole lot of living left to do. Brendan is best known for his fearless pursuit of adventure and attention to detail in his artistic and musical talents.
During treatments for Andrew’s illness at BC Children’s we became aware of how many families were struggling, not only with the emotional impact of having a child with cancer but with the worry of trying to make ends meet because of the financial toll of taking care of their sick child over a long period of time. We lived near the hospital, Cecilia had flexible work hours, and we did not have younger children to take care of so we were better able than most families to bear the financial burden.
After Andrew died, to honour his memory, we began fundraising to help families who were struggling financially. We worked closely with the social workers at the hospital who helped steer the money to families in need. We subsequently joined forces with the Childhood Cancer Parents Association, a group of wonderful, like minded people, whose main goal is to provide financial and emotional support to families who have a child with cancer.
Nathan was an avid reader and “devoured” books, one right after another. His idea of chilling time was to play his gameboy or play on the computer. He had a wicked sense of humour as he would “laugh out loud” when watching a funny TV show. The Saturday prior to his being diagnosed with a liver tumour he tested and received his purple belt in Tai-kwon-do. He also loved to “hang out” with his friends and brother Kyle.
April 23, 2005 My husband Rob and myself made the agonizing decision for our family to go to Canuck Place Children’s Hospice, (still hoping for a miracle), for end-of-life care. Our beautiful son Nathan died three weeks later on May 15, 2005 at Canuck Place with his Mom, Dad and brother Kyle at his side.
With a broken heart but understanding the “emotional rollercoaster” and the financial burden of taking care of a child with cancer I joined CCFS (Childhood Cancer Family Support) to help other families. Touched by the support we had from family, friends and co-workers I felt a strong need to give back and what better way of honoring our beloved son Nathan
I saw how cancer affects a family not only emotionally but also financially. Knowing how important an organization like CCFS is to Dave and Suzanne and the families that CCFS supports, I decided to join the Board in 2014. There is an amazing group of dedicated people on this Board that work tirelessly to make a difference, and I’m honored to be working with them.
Tara joined the CCFS Board in 2014 wanting to offer her time, and with a desire to support and further develop the organization so it can continue to help families in need, fund childhood cancer research, and to hopefully make a small difference for other BC parents and children. Tara feels fortunate to not have lived the trauma and heartache of having a child sick with cancer (hopes she never has to), and considers it an honor to work with the CCFS Board.