We all hate cancer. It’s a ruthless disease that takes way too many of our loved ones, way too early. For New Lowell’s Cheryl Gotthelf, whose daughter Kristen was diagnosed with leukemia at the age of 19 months, saying it’s all extremely difficult is an understatement.
words and photo: Colin Field
“Hearing the words, ‘your child has cancer,’ changed our family in ways that are hard even now to explain,” says Cheryl. “For two and a half years she underwent chemotherapy. It impacted our lives in every area, and we still experience ripple effects.”
Camp Trillium, with locations near Picton and Waterford, helped the family deal with those challenging times. North America’s largest year-round rec program for children with cancer, Camp Trillium supports more than 3,100 kids from across Ontario. But it offers so much more than that.
“The camp facilities were wonderful, the staff unbelievable, and our experience was unforgettable,” says Cheryl. “My husband and I were able to spend time together, in an environment where our children were safe and well taken care of. In that one week, we met new families whose life experience paralleled our own. We met wonderful, kind and selfless young adults, many of whom had survived cancer themselves, or experienced childhood cancer as a sibling. Two of our new friends had survived the same type of cancer that Kristen was fighting; this gave us hope and encouragement.”
What does ‘camped out’ mean? Just about anything: living room forts, backyard tents, school gyms, your local provincial park, or the deepest, darkest wilderness.
That hope was justified; Kristen just celebrated 10 years off treatment. She’s now a camp ambassador and her older brother is a camp counsellor. And now Camp Trillium is looking for your help. The inaugural CampOut For Cancer fundraiser challenges everyone to spend this October 14 ‘camped out.’ What does ‘camped out’ mean? Just about anything: living room forts, backyard tents, school gyms, your local provincial park, or the deepest, darkest wilderness. Simply register, start fundraising and make a plan to be camped out on October 14.
“CampOut for Cancer is a way to bring people together for a fun evening and to raise money to send kids to camp,” says Cheryl. “The ability to send children with cancer and their families to camp will have an impact far beyond anything participants can imagine, but most of all it gives these children the chance to be kids, without worry and without limits. They are kept safe, and sometimes laugh and play for the first time in months.”
What can you do to help send these kids to camp? Simply pitch a tent this October 14. Register at campoutforcancer.com
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