Strides story provided by Clare’s Team captain – Margo Kennedy
Clare’s Team is walking in memory of our dear Clare; my beautiful twin sister. Clare lost her life to Melanoma in 1998, when she was 35 years old. It is hard to believe that this year marks the 24TH anniversary of her death. Her son Alex was just 8 years old. At that time, there was no Canadian melanoma organization, there was very little treatment for the disease. Thankfully, this is no longer the case.
Clare was a truly wonderful person with a great sense of humour. She was also extremely courageous, especially when it came to dealing with her disease. I channel her energy when I encourage total strangers on a bus to get a suspicious looking mole checked. Last year, Clare’s Team had shirts made with the image of a dandelion wish, to symbolize our wish for a cure for everyone.
Clare really shaped me in many ways, but especially as a social worker. At the time of her diagnosis, I was working as a community social worker and didn’t know much about cancer and health care. She changed all that. I will always be inspired when I think back to the grace and courage she showed in fighting melanoma. She could take things in stride one step at a time, find love and joy in every day, appreciate the little things. She taught me about what patients and families need, the power of kind words, the fierceness behind coping mechanisms that simply command respect. I now draw on this experience everyday to try to be the best possible oncology social worker and do her proud.
Looking back I remember feeling lost at times; I don’t recall having access to anyone to provide practical guidance about drug coverage, income support programs, how to talk to kids about cancer or how to navigate the health system… we were left to figure this out for ourselves. Emotionally, all of our family was devastated by news that seemed to go from bad to worse. It was such a hard time for everyone. Clare also didn’t have any access to professional or peer support. I know she didn’t want us to be upset or worry and was always very protective of her family. Even with a supportive husband and family around her, I wonder if she was alone with some of her fears?
Clare, along with our family, would have so benefitted by the support that an organization like the Melanoma Network of Canada has to offer. I wish she had had an opportunity to connect with MNC staff and the Peer Support Program. This is why I volunteer with MNC, became a Board member and the captain for Clare’s Team. I am so passionate about MNC and the vital programs which support patients and families. No one should have to go through this alone.
Sadly, Clare is not with us today, but your donations allow MNC to be Clare’s voice, and the voice of everyone touched by melanoma. Your generous donations will help MNC to continue and expand their work, bring hope for the future and make our wish come true.
Warm regards, Margo Kennedy, Captain of Clare’s Team