Camper Profiles

Meet #irongabe and the Crimeli Family

       

Why CampOut for Cancer?

We are camping out for cancer to help bring awareness to how much value camp plays in the lives of children and families affected with cancer. We didn’t realize what impact Camp Trillium had on families until we recently became part of it all.

Do you know where you’ll CampOut for Cancer yet?

Possibly the upper Grimsby mountain.

Who are you rallying to CampOut with you?

EVERYONE…but we started with the kids and then the grandmothers who are the most unlikely people to camp out anywhere… but people WILL pay to see these ladies camping!

Why is raising funds for Camp Trillium important to your family? 

Our lives were forever changed on our first day of spring family camp. We were only 3 months into our journey with our son #irongabe. We quickly realized that Camp trillium was more than a camp – it’s a social cure for cancer. A place to gain mental health amongst a group of peers, both adult and child, where everyone is the same with the same types of experiences that we wouldn’t wish on anyone else. We found comfort in realizing these amazing people were now part of our lives. The sense of belonging and hope we walked away with was something we will never forget. We are grateful for being a part of the Camp Trillium family and plan to raise $5,000 to send another family of 5 to Camp Trillium.

What else would you like to share?

Our son has been called #irongabe. He has set goals to educate people on the journey of a child diagnosed with ALL… he set a goal of 100 units of blood to be collected and he did that in 4 months. He has a new goal of 200 units of blood by the end of the year.

He shares how blood gave him the strength of Spiderman along with his Port (which is actually his Ironman miniature reactor) and how the doctors are able to recharge him with chemotherapy to rid this evil villain named “Lukie” (Leukaemia).

You can follow him on Facebook here.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/279827605769481/

Camper Story – Ashlynne

My name is Ashlynne. I am a strong healthy 11 year old but I am also a cancer survivor.  I was diagnosed with Wilms Tumor when I was only 4 ½ years old. I had a major surgery to remove my left kidney and then 5 months of chemo.

We found Camp Trillium 2 years after I finished chemo. By this time my hair had grown back and I was healthy. My school and baton friends didn’t really understand when I talked about my cancer. I had physical and emotional scars that they did not have. My family was still dealing with the trauma of childhood cancer. It’s a journey that does not end with the end of treatment.

Camp Trillium is a place I can go with other kids who share the same experiences as me.  I found a place where having cancer is normal. I can talk about chemo and surgeries with kids who get it. It’s fun to meet other kids who had the same cancer as me. My brothers found a place where they weren’t the only ones who have a sister with cancer. Dressing up in costumes and being silly is fun and normal even for teenagers. My parents found a place that can put smiles on our faces and a place where they can go and be with other parents who share similar experiences.   

Our family calls the Island our little piece of Heaven. We are reminded that having a child with cancer is normal and it is ok to be sad at times.  

When I am asked what my favourite part of camp is, I struggle to answer with just one thing. I love special friends, camp friends, family camp, all the activities including arts and crafts and sailing. My parents say there is nothing quite like the sunsets on the Island. Camp is my favourite thing about camp.

Whether its overnight camp or family camp, we leave the Island feeling refreshed. Camp Trillium has given my family a special gift – it has made us whole again.

Ashlynne

How The Hull Family Is Celebrating Camp Trillium

“I’ve been thinking hard on how best to CampOut for Cancer. I’ve considered camping out in a yurt, going backpacking up north, having a giant bonfire or just camping in the backyard. But something wasn’t working for me, wasn’t connecting and feeling right. I then started to reflect on why I’ve been having so much trouble coming up with a place to celebrate Camp Trillium for the day. I couldn’t find a place that would help me feel like I am at Camp Trillium. Camp Trillium isn’t just a place for me and my family. Camp Trillium isn’t just a place for kids and families with cancer to go, get away and enjoy the outdoors. Yes, Camp Trillium is a beautiful place, but that isn’t what calls to me. Camp Trillium calls to my heart. It speaks my language of love—one full of joy, laughter and fun. It is home.

It’s the people who fill the place that makes Camp Trillium so special. While my daughter, Lily, was in the thick of cancer treatment at six years old, we went to family camp. We travelled over three hours, had to get on a boat and then get off on an island full of strange, silly and loud creatures. It was overwhelming as these people grabbed our luggage, called us their family for a week and rushed us across this big open field to our cabin. I wasn’t sure about this place but something magical happened during our first stay. These special, strange, silly and loud creatures became our family, made my sick child laugh and shined light (so much light) into our dark and scary cancer tunnel.

Camp Trillium is a place for families to connect to each other, find some healing and share their strategies for coping with cancer. Yet, it is so much more. I must admit that the first parent meeting at camp was so sad. It was sad listening to all the parents introduce themselves and share their child’s cancer story. I couldn’t help but think of the parents who spoke of losing their son to cancer, who were on their child’s second/third round of treatm

Lily is now 13 yrs old, Abby is almost 11.

ent or who had two boys sick at the same time. How would I relate and connect to these parents? Something magical happened again while at camp. The parents shared stories of survival, were silly playing games while our kids were tucked in for the night and we connected. These moms and dads weren’t any different than us, they knew us because they were us. They had the same story, fears and never said “I can’t imagine.” They understood that cancer was the worst, and at times, the best thing that happened to their family. Time together was precious—taking the time to love, hug, be playful, whisper under the covers and sing by the campfire. All these special, beautiful moments of connection, and love, happened at Camp Trillium because everyone understood each other. Thank you, Camp Trillium, for bringing us to these people to help us heal and find some peace.

Families are more resilient and strong when they feel connected. Those feelings, those moments of connection to other people is what I want to create during my CampOut for Cancer experience. Those moments of laughing through my tears, talking over coffee/tea, breathing a little easier and times of reflection is what I want CampOut for Cancer to be for me – and for others. So, I reached out to a mom from camp, we bonded over coffee/tea and grandiose ideas, and are planning a day retreat for parents of children with cancer. The goal is to focus on mindful and positive experiences of healing at a restorative CampOut for Cancer retreat on October 14th.

Camp Trillium, to me—to so many of us—isn’t just a place to visit. Camp Trillium is a place full of beautiful, wonderful people—kids, parents, special friends—who have stories of love to share. I hope that our CampOut for Cancer retreat embodies the same camp heart and spirit. Camp Trillium is a celebration of the deeper pleasures of home—the bonds that hold people together in sickness and health, joy and sorrow, and love, peace and hope. That is what Camp Trillium, and the CampOut for Cancer retreat, means to me.”

Rebecca Hull

 

The Hope Family’s Story

On August 31, 2004, our family was changed forever. Our youngest daughter, Kristen Hope, then 19 months old, was diagnosed with Leukemia —cancer of the blood. That day we embarked on a journey that has taken us places we never would have imagined, and sometimes pray to forget. Childhood cancer is one of life’s cruelest tragedies, innocence is striped away, families are thrown into turmoil, siblings are devastated, finances are uncertain, and life will never be the same again.

Outsiders reacted differently to the discovery of Kristen’s cancer: some rushed across the street to be a part of the drama….”Your daughter has cancer?” amid curious stares; some looked the other way…uncertain or unwilling to get involved; worse yet the standoffish “She’ll be okay” without concern, not realizing that we were living out a parent’s worst nightmare.

With Kristen’s diagnosis we entered a new world; where conversations of treatment time, prognosis, and blood counts were and are standard.  This world has a language all of it’s own, and is not understood until lived by another.  We have watched families wait for their children to die, and cried with them, and for them, as our darkest fears are lived out in the lives of others.

In one of our stays at Sick Kids, Mark spoke with a hospital volunteer, he spoke of Camp Trillium, where he had worked the previous summer. We began to read up on the Camp, and were intrigued by what we read. This was a place where our whole family could go, and spend some time away together in the summer.

We learned that Camp Trillium runs a Youth Group program in the fall- spring. We signed Alex (8) Jamie (9) and Spencer (12) up for youth group. Once a month, the camp runs an activity, at no cost, for cancer patients and their siblings. The kids had a great time at the couple of events they attended.

When the summer registration packages came out, we decided to try to attend a Family Camp at Rainbow Lake. We also signed the 3 older kids up for a 1-week residential camp at Garrett’s Island.  None of us were quite sure what to expect as we pulled up to the gate. We were met by a bunch of VERY enthusiastic young people…. a race into camp, full of pit stops and craziness.

We were assigned 4 ‘special friends’, one for each child.  These young adults were amazing, they went beyond what we expected to make us feel at home, and to look after our kids.  The camp facilities were wonderful, the staff unbelievable, and our experience was unforgettable.  Mark and I were able to spend time together, in an environment where our children were safe and well taken care of.  Our kids had the opportunity to experience activities that they had never done before.  In that one-week, we met new families whose life experience now paralleled our own.  Some had kids off treatment, some on treatment, and sadly we met families whose children had not won their fight against cancer, but each of us had something to give and teach the other.

We were not certain how the kids would react to the camp, how much fun they would have.  Alex and Jamie cried for ½ hour as we drove away, Spencer at 12 said “That was an experience of a lifetime”, and Kristen a 2.5 year old still remembers her ‘best Holly’, and cried to see her (Holly was her special friend).  Mark and I had a week where we were “normal”, and that in and of itself was priceless.  We had the opportunity to meet many wonderful, kind and selfless young adults, many of whom have survived cancer themselves, or experienced childhood cancer as a sibling.  Two of our ‘special friends’ had survived the same type of cancer that Kristen is fighting; this gave us hope and encouragement.

The kids counted down the weeks until their time at Garrett’s Island for their 1-week camp without us.  They were excited to go again, and made wonderful friends.  Once again, Alex and Jamie’s tears to leave their ‘special friends’ were a testimony to the great job that is done at camp.  One of the first things the kids asked was if next year they could go away for the 12-day camp.

The kids have all enjoyed camp over the past 8 years.  It is still a highlight of our summer, and we are excited to be able to attend camp.  Each year we are encouraged, and try to encourage other families dealing with childhood cancer.

The summer of 2012, brought me another VERY special memory.  We joined a few families for a small campfire and s’mores, there was a child there – a brain tumour survivor, and sometimes the long term effects are great with brain tumour survivors.  He was difficult to understand, but I watched my son leave with him, and later watched from a distance as Alex interacted with this boy, listened intently, and played basketball with him.  Camp has provided many learning opportunities for our family, especially the siblings who thankfully didn’t experience much of Kristen’s hospital life.  Camp has enriched their lives beyond what I can measure; they have experienced growth as individuals that I could never put into words.

Camp Trillium is a wonderful place, amid a terrible circumstance.  We and many other families have benefited from this camp experience.  The option for whole families and/or siblings to enjoy the camp experience is wonderful.  Childhood cancer destroys so many faucets of your life; camp gave some of that back.  We are grateful for the opportunity to attend Camp Trillium; we have already begun to plan for next year.  I don’t think that I can fully explain the effect that going to camp had on our family, but as the saying goes “Until there is a cure, there’s camp”.

We CampOut for Rowan Langille!

Rowan Langille’s journey began May 13, 2010 at the age of 18 months. Rowan was diagnosed with an Ependymoma brain tumour and severe hydrocephalus. He immediately had surgery on the 14th to resect 95% of it. About 3 weeks later he had surgery to insert his g-tube and port a cath and 1 week after that we began chemo.  Rowan had endured 2 rounds of chemo and 33 radiation treatments on his brain. He had finished treatment on the Thanksgiving weekend of the same year! We were very ecstatic that we had made it through. Rowan ended up having to have a VP shunt put in his head in January 2011 to help drain the excess cerebral fluid that remained. He then continued to go for MRI’s every 4 months. Everything was coming up stable!

That was our first summer at Camp Trillium! We were a little hesitant at first but then we had met other families that said we had to go because it was the greatest family experience and everyone there could relate to our story. The week we were there was truly amazing! The kids were all treated like gold and everyone was treated equally regarding the situation. We have 4 children and they all truly enjoyed it. That was the first place where there were other children who could relate to the situation they were in. In the New Year Rowan started to complain that his back was really hurting and we thought it was because he really enjoyed playing hockey!  We took him back to clinic in Feb 2012 and they immediately ordered another MRI.

The next day we found out that Rowans cancer had returned and there was a tumour on his spine and coating all the way down his spine. The only option we had left was to do radiation on his spine. He immediately started within a week of diagnosis. Rowan endured another 28 treatments on his complete spine all the way up to where they had left off from the initial radiation. So far his tumours have remained stable and we are 8 months post treatment. He now goes for MRI’s every 3 months and has continued to amaze the oncology team.

We did attend Camp Trillium again this summer and had a truly amazing time and met even more families. It is a place that you can go and relax and forget about everything that you have endured as a family and just let loose. We truly enjoy going to camp and have the intention to keep going every year as long as they let us! I am hoping that all my children will pay it forward by going back to be special friends to the up and coming new families when they are at the age to do so. We thank Camp Trillium for giving us the opportunity to regroup and have the special bonding with our families that we need to keep going through this journey.