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 20th anniversary of her death. Her son Alex was just 8 years old. At that time, there was no Canadian melanoma organisation, there was very little treatment for the disease. Thankfully, this is no longer the case.
Clare was a truly wonderful person. She worked in marketing as a creative director, which was very fitting as she was could always think outside the box. She had a wonderful sense of humour and could find the funny side of any situation. Last year Clare’s Team honored this part of Clare with a “Cat in the Hat” costume dress up theme for the walk. She would have loved this!
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 organisation 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.
On September 23, Clare’s Team will be walking with some sadness in our hearts and missing our dear Clare. We will also walk with joy; in celebration of her life, of the progress made in treating this disease, of the work that MNC is doing and with hope for the future.
Being part of MNC and walking with Clare’s Team means the world to me. Your generous financial support to MNC makes an important difference to patients and families and is greatly appreciated.
Margo Kennedy, Captain of Clare’s Team