In 2017, three siblings from Aurora, Ontario, organized “PJs and Pancakes in the Park”—their first event to raise money in support of children with cancer. Kate (then 16), Meghan (then 15) and Jack Beswick (then 14) cooked and served pancakes to over 500 community members, friends and family. In partnership with sponsors, they raised over $27,000 at that one massive breakfast.
Since that first foray into raising money for POGO and the families we serve, the Beswick siblings have held three “PJs and Pancakes at Home” fundraisers—bringing pancake breakfast boxes into the homes of their community members, as well as families in treatment at POGO Satellite Clinics across Ontario. Most recently, the young trio launched “Sunday Best”—an afternoon of the best of Toronto’s food, fashion and friends. A three-course brunch catered by renowned chef Mark McEwan and the McEwan Group served over 300 guests in attendance. Entertainment featured live music and a showcase of Toronto’s up and coming fashion designers Ellie Mae Studios, Michel’s Bespoke Atelier, Tara Rivas and more!
“For our whole lives, being involved in our community and giving back has been a very important part of our family. Growing up we were fortunate enough to spend most weekend mornings sharing warm, fun-filled and slightly chaotic breakfasts in our PJs. However, the idea that so many families with a child battling cancer did not have the same experiences, and that instead, their PJs meant illness and treatment, resonated deeply for the three of us at a very young age. Since 2017, we’ve created these initiatives as a way to celebrate, support and share the incredible work POGO does. The work that has been so important to the three of us and our family since those early mornings spent at the breakfast table. The three of us are exceptionally honoured and proud to be able to support local families with a child battling cancer, alongside POGO.”
–Kate, Meghan and Jack Beswick
To date, the Beswicks have raised over $300,000 in support of children, youth and survivors of childhood cancer, and their families. We admire their commitment to being champions of childhood cancer care. On behalf of all of the families we serve, THANK YOU!
Events in support of POGO are an exciting way to turn your passion into impact for kids with cancer and their families. Your enthusiastic commitment combined with creative and administrative support from POGO can make a real difference in childhood cancer care. Got an idea for an event in support of childhood cancer care? Contact email@example.com
Four major Ontario pediatric hospitals, with specialized childhood cancer programs, are the first hospitals in Canada to be awarded prestigious international certification recognizing their excellent supportive care for children and youth with cancer.
CHEO (Ottawa), The Hospital for Sick Children (Toronto), Children’s Hospital at London Health Sciences Centre, and McMaster Children’s Hospital (Hamilton) were each certified by the Multinational Association of Supportive Care in Cancer (MASCC) as Centers of Excellence in Supportive Care in Cancer.
Supportive care refers to the prevention and management of the adverse effects of cancer and its treatment. This includes the management of physical and psychological symptoms and side effects of treatment, such as infections, prevention of nausea and vomiting, nutrition, physiotherapy, and psychosocial support. Supportive care aims to improve the quality of rehabilitation, secondary cancer prevention, survivorship, and end-of-life care.
MASCC certification recognizes these oncology centres for integrating the highest standards of comprehensive supportive care services with cancer treatment. These hospitals provide comprehensive supportive care to their pediatric oncology patients. They work in partnership with the Pediatric Oncology Group of Ontario (POGO) to ensure everyone affected by childhood cancer has access to the best care and support, including through POGO’s Interlink, Transitions, AfterCare, and Satellite Clinic services, and implementation of POGO’s evidence-based clinical practice guidelines.
These four Ontario hospitals join other leading healthcare facilities around the world as MASCC-Designated Centers of Excellence in Supportive Care in Cancer.
MASCC certification is valid for three years.
The Multinational Association of Supportive Care in Cancer (MASCC) is an international multidisciplinary organization dedicated to research and education in all aspects of supportive care for people with cancer. The certification program aims to promote and recognize oncology centres that demonstrate best practices in supportive cancer care by successfully integrating oncology and supportive care, upholding high standards, and maintaining comprehensive supportive care services. Learn more.
Pediatric Oncology Group of Ontario (POGO) works to ensure that everyone affect by childhood cancer has access to the best care and support. POGO partners to achieve an excellent childhood cancer care system for children, youth, survivors, and their families, and healthcare teams in Ontario and beyond. POGO champions childhood cancer care, and as the collective voice of this community, is the official advisor to Ontario’s Ministry of Health on children’s cancer control and treatment. POGO is a non-profit organization with charitable status, here for kids with cancer, for now, for life. Learn more.
POGO is pleased to welcome Jennifer Lomax as Chair of our Development Cabinet and member of our Board of Directors.
Jennifer is Founder and Principal Consultant at Lomax & Co., an advisory firm that mobilizes strategy and implements sustainable management systems to drive superior business results. In this capacity, Jennifer worked with POGO to develop its current organizational strategy. Energetic, pragmatic and unapologetically candid, Jennifer uses her mastery of stakeholder engagement and facilitation to devise and deploy practical, high-impact business solutions. She has over a decade of experience working with organizations of all sectors and scale, including Fortune 500 companies on the client side and in strategic planning roles. Jennifer most recently served on the board of the Loeys-Dietz Syndrome Foundation of Canada.
She attained her MBA from Ivey Business School in 2011 and in 2013, Marketing Magazine named her one of Canada’s Top 30 under 30, recognizing the country’s smartest young marketers.
“I’m passionate about supporting my community and meaningful causes and pleased to join the POGO board and serve as Chair of the Development Cabinet to support POGO’s strategic, fundraising and outreach goals.”
My journey began before I was capable of having conscious memories. When I was two, my mother noticed something off. I can only assume it was my poor balance. Whenever I tried standing, I’d struggle.
In the following years, the oddities persisted. My mother continued taking me to the hospital, but each time it was waved away by my pediatrician as being a flu.
Now, my parents are immigrants from Portugal. They knew little English when they first came to Canada and, thus, were limited in communicating. My cousin had a better grasp on the language but wasn’t privy to how to approach what was happening to me or the proper questions to ask. It seemed hopeless.
Then, after two years, my parents saw an herbal doctor in Toronto. He spoke Portuguese, too. My mother was finally able to tell someone the full story in her native dialect. It was the first time it would be relayed in a cohesive manner.
I was four at this point. In the two years prior to this visit, my pediatrician continued to insist it was a flu. After my mother and the herbal doctor spoke, the herbal doctor turned to me, asking me to kneel before attempting to stand.
I did as he wanted and unsurprisingly, I was wobbly. He had an immediate inkling as to the issue—a brain tumour. He told my mother to go to the hospital, demand a CT scan, and to not leave until I got it. Now, it’s worth noting that none of my family members knew what that was. My pediatrician never mentioned it once. No, he stuck to the flu narrative.
She did as requested but still, the doctors refused. As a child, I guess radiation could cause complications. Thankfully, they eventually gave in. What they found was a tumour that had quietly grown to the size of a grapefruit. I was rushed to the operating room.
After the operation, I wasn’t meant to walk or talk, and it was thought I’d forever lack basic human functions. The early years of my life had me bound to a wheelchair.
Fun fact—my dominant hand used to be my right but, while going to physio and relearning how to use my body, I became ambidextrous.
My neurosurgeon referred to me as his miracle child. I wasn’t supposed to survive, to live to be an uncle, be in relationships, or have a life. I’ve done all of it. I defied the odds.
At 18, I was discharged from Hotel Dieu Hospital. I wouldn’t be followed again until I was about to leave for college. I hooked up with POGO and through them, I got a great counsellor in the POGO School and Work Transitions Program named Sarah.
I’m 33 now and still have ill effects from the cancer. I’m traumatized, have difficulty keeping friendships, and have severe anxiety, as well as depression. I’m a mess. My memory is awful, my balance is terrible and my right side is weak. The nerve endings on my right are damaged, with my facial ones severed, giving me permanent Bell’s Palsy. The psychological effect is immense. At one point I was in cognitive behaviour therapy but the gains I made there were lost once those sessions ended.
At one point, I was even suicidal. I have scarred arms from that. I’m lost. I’m scared.
I need support, psychosocial and so much more, and I know POGO can only do so much. Sarah has put up with me for over a decade now. With her help, I’ve tried to find a job, but I still have trouble because no one wants to hire a liability
I live in solitude and isolation. I still rely a lot on my parents so, once they pass away, I fear I’ll be homeless. As someone with disabilities, I feel society has cast me aside. All of my difficulties are seen as excuses despite being medically justifiable. It’s a daily fight with unfair judgments.
Luckily, in advocating for me, Sarah has recently helped me to become part of the POGO AfterCare Clinic at Kingston General Hospital. I have been able to see a pediatric social worker who kindly referred me back to a brain injury clinic and I’m now being referred for ongoing psychosocial support. Even with Sarah’s support, it’s still a slow burn.
Regardless of my disabilities, declining mental health, and deteriorating brain tissue thanks to radiation treatment, I’m fighting to build a life. I write reviews and have cultivated relationships with companies. I’ve also written three fantasy novels. They’re unpublished, but I hope to get that rectified someday. I’m still beating the odds.
Hello Boils and Ghouls,
Crypt keeper Jamie here with a spooktacular post. As someone who was born on Halloween, the day holds a special place in my heart. From the dressing up to the candy, it is easy to see why any kid would love it, but as I grew older, one of my favourite things quickly became the scary movies that come out around this time of year.
My favourites are definitely the old slasher films like the Friday the 13th, Halloween and Nightmare on Elm Street series. The general format is a group of teens go to X creepy place, are quickly stalked by some unknown entity, and then get routinely picked off one by one until all that remains are the killer and the “final girl” (obviously Jamie Lee Curtis is queen of final girls J).
To me, some of the most exhilarating moments are when the soundtrack picks up and you get that feeling that something dreadful is going to happen. That level of intense fear gets my adrenaline pumping and my imagination goes to dark places. I love it!
So, why am I talking about scary movies on a childhood cancer website? Well, the truth of the matter is, when it comes to my future health…I’m scared, very scared.
I’m afraid that my cancer is going to come back.
I’m afraid that my late effects are going to get worse.
I’m afraid that if something is discovered, I will no longer have the strength to fight back like I did before.
The fear is real and it doesn’t go away when the movie ends and the lights come on.
And, if I am being honest, I have to admit that I dread my annual POGO AfterCare Clinic appointments to monitor my health…I am scared of what they might find.
Yet, like all survivors (horror-film-final girl included), I somehow manage to pick myself up and go on. I think that for me, this strength comes from an understanding that avoidance is the worst thing I could do for my health and, most importantly, because my fate would be worse than all horror film victims combined if my mother found out I missed an appointment.
So, to other survivors reading this, believe me when I say that it is ok to be scared about your health and worried about your AfterCare visits. But the worst thing you can do is to skip them. While avoiding the threat altogether is great advice for anyone in a horror film, it’s not the same for your health.
As part of his AfterCare monitoring, Jamie recently had a colonoscopy where they found some polyps—all of which were benign and removed on the same day. He says it was scary to hear, but it would have been worse if he had delayed his visit and the polyps developed into something else. Read Jamie’s funny account of his colonoscopy in Poops and Farts