From our first meeting with LifeLabs, we knew we were entering into a relationship that would go beyond the typical corporate sponsorship, but we had no idea how rich the collaboration would turn out to be.
In August 2017, LifeLabs pledged $200,000 to POGO, becoming the “Proud Partner” of our Pajamas and Pancakes fundraising campaign. Over the past four years, that pledge has turned into a total of $276,149.83 (to date!), and our relationship with LifeLabs and its employees has evolved and grown greatly over that time. Together, we are improving patient care and transforming the cancer journey for children, youth, their families and survivors in Ontario and beyond.
Raising Funds and Building Awareness
LifeLabs’ endorsement of POGO’s Pajamas and Pancakes Program, a fun and flexible do-it-yourself fundraiser, has not only helped POGO raise more than $276K over the years (including fundraising campaigns generated from their own staff!), but also involved a widespread advertising campaign on GO trains and other media across the GTA to help raise awareness about the program and childhood cancer.
Their annual investment in the POGO Multidisciplinary Symposium has helped our healthcare professionals remain at the forefront of the rapidly advancing field of pediatric oncology.
As an organization that has been committed to building a healthier Canada for over 50 years, LifeLabs understands the toll cancer treatment can take on our families. In 2019, together with London Health Sciences Centre, we piloted a drop-in blood collection program at select LifeLabs service centres to make it easier for families with children fighting cancer to access lab testing that is required to inform treatment decisions. Lab results were available within 12 hours, saving families both time and money.
“We know that when LifeLabs and its employees contribute to POGO, we are helping children and families access the best available care and supportive services during a very difficult time,” says Charles Brown, President and CEO, LifeLabs. “One of LifeLabs’ core values is caring and our employees live that value by supporting incredible organizations in communities across Canada every day.”
Whether they are attending POGO events or volunteering at community events to benefit our families across Ontario, LifeLabs’ employees go the extra mile. In 2019, the LifeLabs’ Sudbury Fun Day held at the POGO Satellite Clinic in the Northeast Cancer Centre brought games, crafts, PJs, gift cards and smiles to over 30 families in treatment. This year, 81 employees signed up for the Toronto Women’s Run with all funds raised benefitting POGO and the families we serve.
At POGO, we value our partnerships and we are inspired by our passionate donors who share our vision. Thank you LifeLabs!
Written by Lynn Wilson, POGO’s Chief Development Officer responsible for the planning and management of POGO’s fundraising, communications and government engagement initiatives.
Support from LifeLabs has helped provide financial assistance to families so they can pay for out-of-pocket costs associated with their child’s treatment, support survivors with customized school and work counselling when their disease or its treatment has left them with learning challenges, and fund promising research that examines the impact of childhood cancer and its treatment.
Ten years ago, I was diagnosed with a papillary brain tumour of the pineal region. I went through three surgeries, a lumbar puncture and thirty treatments of radiation at CHEO and SickKids. I am 21 now.
Since I was young, music has been important in my life. When I was in the hospital for cancer treatment, I would associate different doctors, nurses and family members with songs. I also sang to help me through tough times. In fact, when I woke from the third surgery, my family and doctors were surprised to find me singing!
And it’s not just me. Neurological researchers have found that music reduces the stress hormone cortisol. It releases dopamine and serotonin into the brain, helping you relax and stay focused. And it stimulates oxytocin—a hormone related to positive, happy feelings. Studies have also shown that music can help people process their feelings and change their mood completely.
Try it yourself! When someone you know is in a bad mood, try playing one of their favourite songs to see how they react. It might seem like a small thing, but as mentioned above, music can improve your mood and your whole outlook.
Written by Ariane Delorme
Mon nom c’est Ariane Delorme et dix ans passés, j’ai été diagnostiqué avec une tumeur cérébrale papillaire de la région pinéale. J’ai dû subir trois chirurgies majeures, une ponction lombaire, et trente traitements de radiations à CHEO et à Sick Kids. J’ai vingt et un maintenant.
Depuis un jeune âge, la musique est devenu très importante pour ma vie. Lorsque je me retrouvais à l’hôpital pour mes traitements, j’associais des chansons aux docteurs, infirmières et membres de ma famille. Je chantais aussi pour m’aider à passer au travers des temps difficiles. Je me suis même réveillé de la troisième chirurgie en chantant! Ceci a laissé mes docteurs ainsi que ma famille surpris.
Ce n’est pas seulement moi. Les recherches en neurologie ont découvert que la musique réduit le cortisol, qui est un hormone de stress. Ça relâche la dopamine et la sérotonine dans le cerveau, qui aident à se détendre et rester concentrer. Ça stimule aussi l’ocytocine. Une hormone reliée aux pensées et sentiments positifs. Les études ont aussi montré que la musique peut changer l’humeur complètement des gens.
Essaie toi-même! Lorsque quelqu’un vous connaissez est pas dans la meilleure humeur, essais de jouer l’une de leurs chansons préféré pour voir comment ils réagissent. Ça semble peut-être comme rien, mais comme mentionné ci-dessus, la musique peut améliorer votre humeur et votre perspective.
Écrit par Ariane Delorme
Written by: Tulsi Kapadia
The transition to return to school can be exceptionally difficult after a long period of cancer treatment. I experienced this firsthand. I was diagnosed with cancer early in Grade 7, which caused me to miss eight of the ten months in that school year and much of the next because I was still on active treatment. It was challenging to manage my health and academics simultaneously, but I found that there were a few things that made school a bit easier.
If you’re anything like me, you don’t like to get “special treatment.” However, it is warranted sometimes and I recommend you try doing everything you can to make your school life less difficult. Here are some of my tips to make the transition easier, especially if you’re in middle school or high school.
Count on your friends
One thing I found very challenging after my return to school was my social life. Before diagnosis, my main way of socializing was with friends at school. But when I returned to the classroom the following year, I hardly knew anyone. I requested the school transfer one of my close friends into my class which made the school year significantly more manageable for me. I had someone I could talk with; he introduced me to other people which helped me build my social skills. Also, if I ever fell behind on schoolwork, I could rely on my friend to catch me up with anything I missed. Having that one friend can be a huge help socially and academically, both of which I really appreciated back then.
Get support from your teachers
Another incredibly useful support is to have understanding teachers who are willing to accommodate you regarding tests and assignments. This means taking the time to explain your diagnosis and any related issues you may still be experiencing. When your teachers are informed and willing to support you, this allows you to focus on your health if there are times when you don’t feel too great. The biggest thing about support from teachers is not to be afraid of asking for extensions when you need the extra time. If you come across a teacher who does not understand your situation, it would be best to speak with a guidance counsellor or the principal to see if they can help you get the accommodations you need.
Build strength by asking for help
The bottom line is that it’s okay to ask for help or speak up if you have an idea for a way to make your transition back to school easier. It’s an exciting and challenging time and some people will understand that and support you. Remember, asking for help is a strength, not a weakness!
Now, many people will tell you that going through cancer changes you and gives you a new outlook on life, and in many cases, that is true. That said, I think it is safe to say that much of my personality has remained the same from before my treatment. This year I’ll be turning 36 years old and I’ve been cancer-free for over 20 years. I believe that one specific aspect of my personality aligns with most people’s inner child:
“I think poop and farts are hilarious!”
Is it childish and gross-out humour of the lowest order? Yes, but it is still funny. I mean, a well-timed fart or good old poop joke still has me laughing. And my juvenile sense of humour has been somewhat useful when I go to my check-ups, where, inevitably, one of the questions I get is about poop or, in medical terms, “bowel movements.” Due to my treatment, my pancreas doesn’t entirely work and things can get a bit messy, so, it’s possible that I get the poop questions more than others do.
Anyway, during one of my recent POGO AfterCare Clinic appointments, my health team suggested that I get a colonoscopy due to the type of cancer treatment I received as a child and the fact that there is some family history of colon cancer on my dad’s side. (This part was not funny.)
Both my parents have had colonoscopies, and they offered some advice based on their experience, like do not eat certain Jell-O colours as they dye your insides. But, most importantly, they told me that in both their experiences, the worst part was not the procedure itself but the purge the day before.
For those of you unaware of the process, a few days before a colonoscopy, you start a low-fibre diet with no red meats. The day before, you can only have clear liquids and take what I would call “super laxatives”…and oh boy, do they work. One of the late effects of my cancer and treatment that I regularly deal with is spending more time close to the bathroom, but this was on a whole other level. I believe several texts to my mother included the words, “Oh God, why won’t it stop?”
The actual colonoscopy wasn’t that bad. I experienced a slight discomfort at first, but that was about it. And it is really freaky to watch the camera work its way through your colon.
During my procedure, they found a total of seven polyps (this is a lot). Luckily, the gastroenterologist was able to remove all of them and the lab results showed none were cancerous. The bad news is that because they found so many, I have to go back in three years rather than the regular ten.
While I don’t look forward to my next visit, I’m glad that I went because now I know that my colon is healthy at the moment and that the polyps that were removed don’t have the chance to turn into something much worse. One of the many benefits of going to a POGO AfterCare Clinic is that the doctors know your diagnosis, treatment protocol and what late effects need to be monitored.
Believe me, as a pessimist, I know that it sucks to go through the hassles of test after test, and I find myself thinking, “What if?” But I just remember that if they do find something, it’s better if they find it earlier rather than later.
On the positive side, I now have medical proof that I have a tight butt; I refuse to look at it any other way!
Hon. Stephen Goudge and the Board of Pediatric Oncology Group of Ontario (POGO) are pleased to announce James Scongack as the new Chair of the POGO Board of Directors.
For a number of years, James and his wife, Jenny, have been actively involved on several fronts to further POGO’s mission. They have provided advice, raised awareness and secured support from many community champions of childhood cancer care. James will continue to serve as Chair of the POGO Development Cabinet, a volunteer advisory committee supporting POGO’s fundraising and outreach goals and strategies. He is also an advocate within Canada’s cancer care space, as a longtime and ongoing supporter of the Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada and as Chair of the Canadian Nuclear Isotope Council. He also serves on the Board of Directors of LifeLabs.
Outside of his volunteer work, James is currently the Chief Development Officer and Executive Vice-President of Operational Services at Bruce Power and has been recognized as one of Canada’s Top 40 under 40®.
“I’m honoured to continue my volunteer involvement with POGO working with my Board colleagues, a strong management team, committed volunteers, families and passionate care providers to ensure we do everything we can to support children, youth, survivors and their families who are impacted by cancer,” says James. “POGO has made a profound difference to my family and many others across the province and I want to recognize the Hon. Stephen Goudge for his leadership as POGO Board Chair, and Dr. Mark Greenberg, one of POGO’s founders, who treated my wife when she was diagnosed with cancer at the age of two. I also thank the countless others who built this great, internationally recognized organization that is so important to so many families. Under the leadership of Jill Ross as Chief Executive Officer and Dr. David Hodgson as Medical Director, we will all continue to build on the POGO success story.”
As POGO welcomes James, the Board and organization also thank Hon. Stephen Goudge for seven years of remarkable leadership. We are extremely grateful for Stephen’s guidance through the completion of our fifth Childhood Cancer Care Plan in 2018, a new strategic organizational plan in 2019 and his support of our important work in diversity, equity and inclusion. In handing the reins to James, Stephen says, “I am delighted that James will be taking over as Chair. I have every confidence in James, whose ability to build consensus will serve POGO well in the years to come. His commitment has been unwavering, his business acumen extraordinary and his vision strongly aligns with the organization’s goals.”
Please join us in welcoming James and thanking Stephen!