Stories of Courage & Hope
Meagan Bebenek was weeks from her 5th birthday when she drew a special picture for Mother's Day. Giving it to her mom Denise, she explained how the two people in the picture were mommy and daddy and the object above their heads was Meagan, a little angel who would always be with them. It had been five months since her diagnosis of brain stem glioma, a cancerous and inoperable brain tumour.
Meagan passed away quietly on June 17, 2001 with her family at her side. Never once did she complain about her treatments, rather she focused her time making and wrapping presents to give to her caregivers and friends. These gestures were her five-year old way of saying thank you for their love and caring, and perhaps even goodbye.
Meagan's story is one of courage, spirit and hope and her legacy is Meagan’s Walk: Creating a Circle of Hope.
Olivia Can Light Up a Room
Olivia was born on March 7, 2013. At 6 months of age she began vomiting daily and was unable to gain weight. More than a year later, weighing only 13 lbs and with impaired breathing, she was diagnosed with a brain tumour. She underwent surgery followed by 70 weeks of low dose chemotherapy. Olivia’s recovery has been a marathon.
At 3 years old she has learned to walk on her own, her swallowing function has improved and she is within normal weight limits for her age. Her tumour is currently stable. Olivia wakes up with a smile and goes to bed smiling too. Her laughter is infectious and she can light up a room.
Meagan’s Walk Provides a Sense of Belonging to Chris and his Family
Cathy shares her son's story "Chris was a healthy, active 11 yr old when he suddenly developed headaches and vomiting. Five days later, he was diagnosed with a brain tumour. Over the next 7 years he has been to the OR 4 more times, endured 130 weeks of chemo, had countless clinic visits, blood tests, and MRIs. Through all of this, the best advice from our neuro-oncology doctors was to keep Chris' life as "normal" as possible. So while Chris had to give up hockey and rugby, he picked up and excelled at, tennis and volleyball.
Now 18, Chris is at University, no longer feels sorry for himself, understands how fortunate he has been and how important it is to help others. Meagan’s Walk provides us with an immense sense of belonging as we know we are not alone in our journey."
Live Life One Day at a Time
Niko was diagnosed in the summer of 1991 when he was 7 years old. After radiation and a full year of chemotherapy, he received a clean bill of health. Niko returned to school and for the next five years enjoyed life to the fullest. In 1996 his tumour returned. The second time was harder as he endured very aggressive chemotherapy and a stem cell transplant. Niko spent 10 months in the hospital but went home once again in remission. A year and a half later his cancer returned.
Towards the end of his life, Niko shared with his mom Pat that he had learned a lot through this journey "Always be positive and happy, live life one day at a time and never, never give up".
Niko passed away March 28, 1999 at the age of 15.
It Took 3 Years for Tyler's Brain Tumour Diagnosis
Tyler's mom shares his story: "According to our specialists at Sick Kids, my son Tyler was born with his brain tumour. However it took over 3 years for him to be diagnosed. His main symptom was SEVERE failure to thrive. At age 3 Tyler weighed a mere 21.5 pounds.
Finally, after 3 years of fear and heartbreak, an MRI was ordered and we had our answer. The tumour was 5 cm yet Tyler was running around, making the nurses laugh. He had surgery that removed 60% of the tumour and then endured 70 weeks of chemo to shrink it even further.
Tyler’s tumour is still there today and causes him some side effects, but overall he is doing great. Tyler’s story is an important one because it emphasizes the need for education within the medical community. That is why Meagan’s Walk is so important. Not only because it raises money for much needed research to improve treatment options and survival rates, but also because it spreads awareness and education of this horrible disease."
5 Year Old Tyson Helps Big Sister Myah Put on Socks
Brain cancer has robbed this beautiful eight year old girl’s ability to put on her own socks so her little brother has stepped up to help her out. Nichola, Myah’s mom tells us more.
“Our daughter has brain cancer. DIPG to be exact. We were told right from the start that she would die from this cancer, probably within the first year after diagnosis. We have been blessed to have over 3 1/2 years with her since that day, but now our time with her is coming to an end. Slowly (and occasionally not so slowly) she is losing the ability to control her body. The left side of her body is becoming paralyzed, her speech is slowing down, she can't remember what she did a few minutes ago, and she constantly sees double. We know that things will continue to progress... swallowing, breathing, and course the beating of her heart. We are so grateful for every moment we get to spend with her. For every time she tells us she loves us. For every cuddle and kiss. We are blessed that her illness has brought her five year old brother's caring nature to the surface. We are beyond devastated. We are heartbroken. We hope that one day, childhood cancers gain the same recognition and funding that other adult cancers do. Our children deserve to be the highest priority.
Myah passed away on February 19th, 2015
Julian's Favourite Word is Hope
Julian Pope was diagnosed with cancer at the end of January in 2003 at the age of 7.
Julian participated in his first Meagan’s Walk that year but was driven along the route by his mother because he was too ill at the time to make the journey on foot. They were completely overwhelmed by the number of people walking for the same cause and supporting all the families and children who were affected by paediatric brain tumours.
Through round the clock care and support, Nona’s homemade lasagne and the incredible team at SickKids, Julian is now a healthy young man who also acts as a patient advocate and ambassador.
Julian is now studying architecture at George Brown College
Tobin Has Battled Cancer Three Times
Tobin was diagnosed with a brain tumour when he was 2. He had surgery, chemotherapy and 33 stereotactic radiation treatments. When Tobin was 5, he started playing baseball but during baseball season, an MRI showed the residual tumour had grown. He had surgery followed by a year and a half of chemotherapy. Despite his treatment, Tobin continued to play baseball and added hockey and curling to the sports he enjoyed.
When Tobin was 9, the cancer was back again and had spread down his spine. The neurosurgeon removed the tumour and Tobin underwent 30 rounds of full brain and spine radiation to deal with leftover cancer cells.
Now in high school, Tobin is looking forward to a career in nursing or medical research.