Director of Fundraising
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!)
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.
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.
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.”
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 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.