Osteogenic Sarcoma are words too big for a nine year old. When they were first spoken in a doctor’s office at Children’s hospital it was also the first time I remember seeing my father cry. After that, ward 3B became my home for the better part of a year while going through cancer treatments. My hair fell out, I watched a lot of T.V., and for two months I was moved to the Intensive Care unit because I had developed a life threatening infection. It was during this time that I became acquainted with the people behind Balding for Dollars. My mother, a high school science teacher, took leave from work and stayed with me full-time at the hospital. The Balding team even provided an RV for my mother to sleep in when she couldn’t stay in my room during my time in the ICU.
When I was deemed to be in remission it became clear that my leg was too damaged from the bone cancer to salvage. At the age of 10, I became an amputee. I stayed in contact with the Balding for Dollars team through my regular follow-up hospital appointments. My mother and I would stop by their office to visit with Dan Mornar and swap a few punny jokes. Through the years it became an important tradition for my family to volunteer at the Balding for Dollars Main Event. When I was old enough, Balding gave me the opportunity to go on several “Teen Adventures.” I surfed in Tofino, sailed on a Tall ship, and white-water rafted on the Fraser River. These were no easy feat for a young amputee, but these trips empowered me to tackle other opportunities later in life.
One of the most amazing things the Balding for Dollars organization did for me was to support my university education through their bursary program. I entered Kwantlen Polytechnic University with two passions: creative writing and psychology. Over six years I completed a Bachelor of Arts double major in these areas. In the spring of 2015 I spent a semester abroad in England which taught me about independence and inspired my love of travelling. When I was still in the planning stages, I contacted Balding to see if they would continue to support me through a bursary during this time. With no hesitation, they did! A few years into my degree I unexpectedly fell in love with poetry. While some don’t understand the mash-up of psychology and creative writing, my knowledge in both areas intertwine when I write. Through writing poetry I found a way to express my experiences of childhood cancer and growing up as a disabled woman. Currently, I have one poem published in a literary magazine and it is my goal to continue publishing post-graduation.
The Balding for Dollars bursary program is a fundamental part of their organization. It tells children and teens in treatment or remission that there is life after cancer. It shows them that there is a dedicated community who understands the struggle their family has gone through, whether it be financial or not. Balding for Dollars strives to help childhood cancer survivors achieve their dreams through education.
Cancer touches many families and it can be especially devastating when it touches a young person. By donating to Balding for Dollars you give hope to survivors like me.