Dave Dunbar
Tara Fong
Debbie Watt
Director of Fundraising
Cecilia Maerov

Director Stories

Dave & Suzanne Dunbar

The Dunbar'sThe Dunbar Family (Dave, Suzanne, Kayla, Marissa & Quinn) were surprised and shocked to learn that Quinn’s long “sickness” during the summer of 2002 was in fact Cancer. In Sept. ’02 Quinn was diagnosed (at 6.1/2 years old) with a brain tumour – Medulloblastoma. After surgery, Chemotherapy followed, along with 31 doses of radiation to the head and spine ending on Christmas Eve ’02. Then, a month later (before starting a year of Chemo) an MRI revealed four new tumours in his spine. After 6 months of “heavy” Chemo, the Oncology Team decided that a “Stem Cell Rescue” would be best. On July 22/03 at Children’s, Quinn rec’d approx. 6 months of Chemo in 6 days , was then moved to the transplant room, injected with his own blood stem cells, and was finally discharged on Aug. 22/03 – a month later. For insurance, Quinn rec’d another 13 radiation doses to his spine in December of ’03.

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!)

The Maerovs

The Maerov'sIn March, 1998, our son, Andrew, complained of numbness on the front of his leg. He was 15, and his brother Richard was 17. After a number of routine visits to doctors, he was diagnosed with an astrocytoma tumour in his spinal cord, a rarity altogether, particularly in a juvenile, and generally a benign type of tumour. He had surgery in June to remove the tumour, which initially was thought to be benign, but after a thorough biopsy was found to be malignant. Andrew went through 26 radiation treatments and then chemotherapy and appeared to be recovering his strength. Then suddenly in December he rapidly lost his strength and underwent another operation to remove cystic fluid in his spine, but the tumour continued to grow. He stayed on chemo, consisting of injections and pills through the first half of the year, all the while becoming progressively paralyzed starting from his legs and then up his body. Despite his unwavering spirit and determination, Andrew died in September, 1999, at age 17 having spent his last two birthdays in the hospital.

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.

Debbie Watt

DebbieThough I’m one of two Directors on the Board that has not gone through cancer treatment with a child, I have seen firsthand how a family is affected by their child’s diagnosis of cancer, and the battle they undertook to find a cure. My good friends of 30 years and fellow Board Members Dave and Suzanne lost their son Quinn to cancer after a 7 year battle.

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 Fong

Tara-and-LenTara, her husband (Len) and their children are long time friends of Dave and Suzanne Dunbar (and their 3 children). The Fong’s started to support CCFS’s fundraising efforts after discovering Quinn Dunbar was diagnosed with cancer (in 2002) – and, after learning of the many medical costs that are not covered through BC Medical or Extended Medical insurance and the hardship this was placing on families like Dave and Suzanne’s.

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.

Darlene Lourenco

“In the summer of 2007, my husband and I took our 12-year-old twin daughters, Sadie and Lindsey, on a long-awaited trip to Portugal. They had just finished grade 7 and were so excited to experience the ancient castles, cathedrals and the sandy beaches of the Algarve. From the moment we arrived, Lindsey was not herself. She was tired, weak, and nauseous and soon came alarming  fevers and dehydration. After several unsuccessful visits to the doctor, we ended up in emergency where they finally took a sample of blood and we got a diagnosis…. cancer…. Leukemia.

She was rushed by ambulance to cancer hospital in Lisbon where my husband, Tony, tried to figure out how we could safely get back home with our daughter. With the help of BC Children’s Hospital, he got her home by a small air ambulance jet with a team of 3 doctors. Lindsey went through 2 full years of chemotherapy and then went into remission. We had been through the worst we could imagine and thought it was behind us. Lindsey had Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. It was supposed to be the cancer that was easily beat…. But she relapsed.

This time the protocol was stronger chemotherapy, intense brain and full-body radiation and a difficult bone marrow transplant.  She spent her sweet sixteen in a tiny isolation room, praying for the transplant to work. And it did…. for a while. She was named the BC Children’s Hospital Champion child in 2011 and she was so proud! But before she was able to complete her special year, the cancer reared its ugly head again, and this time there were far less options. She was in crippling pain and now needed a wheelchair. She was well enough to come home from hospital a few times, but we needed to be able to pay for the medication and special formula for her feeding tube and we couldn’t pay it! There was once Lindsey had to pay for her own meds out of her own bank account so she could go home! That is when we got help from CCFSupport.

When you are fighting the battle of a lifetime and you lose one, sometimes both incomes, it feels hopeless. You can’t pay your bills and you can’t afford some of the vital care your child needs that isn’t covered by our medical system. No amount of good deeds and kindness, however well-intended and appreciated, can cover these costs. We know people who have lost their homes, their jobs and their security, all while helplessly watching their precious child suffering. Ultimately, my daughter died after fighting cancer for 5 ½ years.  I joined CCFSupport to play a small part in helping other families as we had been helped in our greatest time of need. In memory of our eternal sunshine, our sunflower Lindsey.”

Victoria Do

In 2016, Shyla, our two year old daughter at the time became ill. We thought she had the stomach flu and when she wasn’t getting better, we took her to BC Children’s Hospital for further assessment. After a CT scan, the doctors discovered a tumour the size of a golf ball in her bladder. They told us something no parent ever wants to hear: “your daughter has cancer”. We were shocked, devastated and in disbelief that this was happening to our precious little girl. Shyla was diagnosed with Rhabdomyosarcoma, a childhood cancer that forms in soft muscle tissue.

It was extremely heartbreaking to witness our daughter endure the harsh treatments that was supposedly destroying the cancer yet weakening her tiny body. Despite all the hardship, Shyla remained her calm, spunky and joyful self.

As her parents, being on the journey with Shyla and her battle against cancer came with many challenges emotionally and financially. Thankfully, Suzanne & Dave of Childhood Cancer Family Support (CCFSupport) were there for us and helped shine light during our darkest of times.

CCFSupport provided us with countless Starbucks gift cards which allowed us to buy one of Shyla’s favorite treats from there (the Birthday Cake Pops). They also provided us with many practical and much needed gifts such as gas and grocery gift cards- although, Shyla would ask “Can we trade those in for a Starbucks one?”.

Shyla had a special way of making everyone around her smile. Our beloved daughter took her last breath on Dec 18, 2019 on the eve of her 6th birthday at Canuck Place Children’s Hospice in Vancouver, BC. In honour of Shyla’s memory, we created Shyla Spreads Hope and Wings of Gold, community initiatives that are committed to bringing awareness to childhood cancer and fundraising for CCFSupport to help more families in need.

I am continuously moved by the dedicated members of CCFSupport and have joined their Board of Directors to be part of their mission in helping families affected by childhood cancer and/or blood disorders. I truly believe that giving back heals the heart and together we can make a difference.

Bryson Dutzi

Bryson is a knowledgeable, experienced, and detail-oriented financial planning specialist. He has a great passion for financial planning and helping others build their wealth. He holds a Certified Financial Planning designation and graduated from UBC with a Bachelor of Science. With over 15 years experience in the wealth management field, he provides comprehensive financial advice customized to his clients’ needs. He enjoys building great long-term relationships with his clients. He was awarded pillar and various other awards from one of Canada’s largest financial planning and asset management companies. Risk management is an important focus in his practice. One of the biggest insurance companies in Canada named him a top advisor for the advice he provided to his clients.

He has a strong focus in philanthropy and being a part of the community. He currently volunteers as a director on a board for a non-profit charity that helps families dealing with childhood cancer. In his spare time, he enjoys spending time with his young family. He also loves traveling and doing outdoor activities like scuba diving, sailing, and motorcycling.

Dan Mornar - former BCCCPA Chair (Retired)

I think the last credential a parent ever wants or expects to earn is as the parent of a child with cancer. In April of 1988 our then six year old son Jonathan was diagnosed with a Stage IV neuroblastoma. After many courses of chemo, radiation and a bone marrow transplant, Jonathan achieved a remission for a few years but unfortunately relapsed in June of 1992 and passed away in May of 1993. My wife and two daughters remind ourselves every day how blessed we were to have Jon for the 12 years he was with us. Joining CCFS gave me a chance to try and change similar outcomes for other families of kids with cancer. We do this by helping to raise support and awareness about childhood cancer on a local and national level. It has been both a privilege and an honor to be a member of CCFS. I hope we can continue to work together towards improving the quality of life for kids with cancer and their families. Please consider joining us and helping out in whatever way you can…because “TOGETHER WE CAN”.