It’s easy to brush off the possibility of getting cancer. After all it’s something that only happens to other people right?
Sadly, the reality is altogether more sobering. Almost 200,000 Canadians faced a cancer diagnosis in 2015; that’s about 540 new cases each and every day.
That’s why this April’s Daffodil Month is so important.
An initiative from the Canadian Cancer Society, Daffodil Month encourages people to volunteer, donate, and wear the daffodil pin to show their support for people who are battling cancer. The cause helps fund life-saving research, support services, and much more.
Vancity Buzz sat down with cancer survivor and Vancouverite Alexandra Van to find out about her battle with cancer and why she’ll be showing her support for Daffodil Month this April.
Could you please give us some background information about yourself?
I’m 25 years old, still living at home with my parents and have no kids. I graduated two years ago from UBC with a degree in Kinesiology and at the moment, I’m working in West Vancouver at the community centre in various positions, but mainly in youth and kid programming, and volunteer engagement. I also do tour guiding around Vancouver as a part-time gig. I’m a born and raised Vancouverite, and pretty much grew up in North Vancouver, making me a bit of an outdoors nut.
Can you share your cancer story?
I was diagnosed in April of 2010 with Stage four non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, meaning I was already pretty sick by that time. I started chemotherapy right away and went through four months of treatment, all the while studying for my university finals. I went right back to school in September of that year as that bald, unrecognizable girl just to find out the cancer had come back a few months later- this time, isolated to my brain, causing me to lose all the sensation and control in the left side of my body.
The second time around I had to undergo a more heavy-duty chemo and a long stint of radiation therapy. Then came a slow recovery period of intense rehabilitation as I had to relearn to walk and eventually run again. I finished treatment in May of 2011 and since then I’ve been getting good scans, great scans actually. So this year will officially mark my fourth year out. And I’m feeling awesome!
Can you tell us about your volunteering with the Canadian Cancer Society?
I started volunteering with Camp Goodtimes four summers ago, when I was first diagnosed. A friend of mine is a longtime volunteer with them and when I got sick, she suggested that if I had the energy, I should consider going up to camp to help out. She literally filled out my entire application and sent it in for me. I went up to work in the dining hall and since then, I’ve gone back year after year because camp was such a life-changing experience for me. I wasn’t even a camper and I think I got more therapy out of it than any therapist could ever give me! I left camp a different person than the person I was before.
Did you and your loved ones use any Canadian Cancer Society programs or services?
I was involved in your Cancer Connection program for a while, and connected with a young woman who had the same cancer as me and had gone through a similar experience.
What would you say to other people to encourage them to donate and join the Canadian Cancer Society as a volunteer?
Having been both a participant and volunteer within their support programs, I will always be a huge advocate for the Canadian Cancer Society. Not only do they provide phenomenal support programs, but they cover all the other parts of the cancer spectrum too, from prevention to research. They’ve also played such an important role in my whole cancer journey, and I hope that others going through the same experience can benefit from the amazing work the Canadian Cancer Society does.
Find out where you can buy a daffodil pin by clicking here and learn about how you help out during daffodil month via volunteering, wearing the pin, or making a donation online. Stay in the know by checking out the Canadian Cancer Society’s B.C./Yukon division on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and use the hashtag #JoinTheFight.