September is Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.
According to the Canadian Cancer Society (CCS), childhood cancer is the #1 cause of death among Canadian children past infancy – more than asthma, diabetes, cystic fibrosis and AIDS combined. In 2019, the Government of Canada Canadian Cancer Statistics Report estimated that 1,000 children between the ages of 0 and 14 would be diagnosed with cancer throughout the year.
That is 1,000 families whose lives have been irreversibly changed as they face the battle of a lifetime before their child has even finished middle school.
For Ryan and Trinda from Calgary, Alberta, this day came on November 14, 2018, when their daughter Auralia was diagnosed with Leukemia, just 16 days before her 8th birthday. Two days later, she was taken in for her first surgery.
“It’s hard for people to understand,” says Trinda, Auralia’s mom, “because they don’t ever think it will happen to them. Then one day, you’re told something you never thought you’d hear, and you’re making decisions you never thought you’d have to make.”
As parents of a daughter with childhood cancer, Ryan and Trinda have learned to take things as they come, knowing every day is its own rollercoaster. They celebrate Auralia’s successes and support her during the most difficult days, standing in solidarity with their daughter and weathering the ups and downs of each new stage of treatment together. “Losing her hair was, of course, hard,” says Trinda, “before she lost it to treatment, she had gorgeous, waist-long hair. Now, Ryan keeps his head shaved, so his hair is never longer than his daughters.”
Auralia is 9 years old now, 2 years into her 2.5-year Leukemia treatment. She loves animals and the outdoors, and wants to be a zoologist one day. Her reality for the past two years has been filled with doctor’s visits and daily chemo, isolation periods, and unexpected obstacles such as sudden illnesses and emergency hospital trips that have derailed her treatment. In the face of such monumental adversity, however, Ryan and Trinda are continually inspired by their young daughter’s perseverance and compassion. “She is so kind.” Says Trinda, “She just wants to help. Even with Leukemia, she is still out helping Ryan shovel the elderly neighbors walks all winter long.”
For the month of September, Auralia, Ryan and Trinda are participating in the Believe in the Gold Virtual Run/Walk for Childhood Cancer.
Believe in the Gold is a charitable organization established in 2013 that works to raise awareness and provide financial and emotional support for families impacted by childhood cancer. Based out of Calgary, Alberta, it was founded in memory of Jacey Uphill, who passed away after a fight with Ewing’s Sarcoma in October of 2012, at the age of 19.
Believe in the Gold has helped Ryan and Trinda mitigate some of the uncovered costs incurred by Auralia’s treatment over the last two years, and they are participating in the fundraiser as a way to give back to the organization and help other families who have experienced the difficulties of childhood cancer. “They’ve done so much for Auralia and for our family,” says Ryan, Auralia’s dad, “this is our chance to do what we can for them, while doing something we love.”
Auralia and her family have always been outdoor enthusiasts and avid hikers – something that they’ve continued to pursue at an adapted rate following Auralia’s diagnosis – and the family decided to participate by hiking. For the month of September, Auralia and Trinda each set a 10 km goal, and Ryan set a 100 km goal.
According to Trinda, when she was first diagnosed, Auralia was unable to walk more than a few blocks before her dad had to carry her. This month, Auralia and her mom have already accomplished their original 10 km goals, and Ryan is now at 87.5 km.
After smashing her 10 km goal well ahead of schedule, Auralia has showed no signs of slowing down. “The first thing she said when we finished was that she wanted to increase her goal by another 10 kilometres,” says Ryan.
“She just wants to keep helping.” Says Trinda. Their most recent has hike put Auralia at over 17 km!
The family has now raised over $2,700, more than doubling their original fundraising goal, and will continue to push as hard as they can to support Auralia and raise awareness and funds for childhood cancer.
You can follow Auralia’s progress and support her cause here.
For more stories, visit Todayville Calgary.
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