Austin: What was it like battling cancer as a young teen?
Eloise: I was 14 years old when I was diagnosed with cancer, just weeks shy of starting my Grade 10 year. I was already trying to grapple with big questions like, “Who am I?” and “Who do I want to become?” I was busy navigating life and all things that “normal” teenagers experience. Then, on top of this quest for identity, I was suddenly confronted with a life-threatening illness. I felt overwhelmed, confused and defeated. I had no idea how to react or how to feel. There is no better way to describe it than an absolute rollercoaster of emotions.
In my opinion, the fundamental difference between young kids going through cancer and teens, is their sense of awareness. Unlike many young kids next to me on the 8th floor of SickKids, I KNEW something was wrong. Actually, I knew EXACTLY what was wrong. I had cancer—a disease I never imagined I would have, especially at 14.
Many brave young children I encountered accepted this painful journey with a sense of “normalcy.” Despite all they were going through, they maintained their positivity and love for life. This was something I could not mirror—not for lack of trying. I wanted to exude the same level of strength, courage and positivity as many of those children but I was keenly aware of my painful, frustrating and exhausting journey with cancer. People sometimes forget that teenagers are far closer to identifying as adults than they are to children, yet, they are unique and require a certain approach to their care.
Austin: In what ways does your journey with cancer still impact you today?
Eloise: Despite being cancer-free for nearly eight years, my journey through survivorship has been far from easy. Cancer continues to influence many areas of my life, both positively and negatively. On a professional level, I have built a career inspired by my experience. The Good Hood Club is a loungewear company that champions childhood cancer care, most notably by donating 50% of its profits to childhood cancer organizations like POGO. Given my journey and fortune with cancer, I constantly seek ways to give back. The Good Hood Club has provided me with a vehicle to do that.
Although cancer is a “distant memory,” the emotional turmoil it sparked is not. Daily, I battle anxiety primarily linked to having had cancer as a teen. This has been an ongoing challenge for me; however, I am committed to finding ways to help me manage it. More abstractly, cancer has taught me many invaluable life lessons. Undoubtedly, my biggest takeaway has been my appreciation and love for life.
Austin: How did you decide to start Good Hood Club as a business and how did you come up with the name?
Eloise: While studying commerce at Queen’s, I took a digital marketing class in my 3rd year. One of the projects required us to create an e-commerce-based business from scratch. While most of our classmates saw this as merely a school project, my group saw it as an opportunity to do something good. My best friend, Chloe, and I wanted to create something meaningful. We thought, “What can we sell that will do good?” Our answer, “Hoods.” We also wanted people to feel part of a more significant community, a club. Hence the name, Good Hood Club.
Austin: What does Good Hood Club mean to you, both on a personal and a professional level?
Eloise: On a professional level, I could not have asked for a better way to dive into the workforce. I have gathered experience across various areas. I have had unparalleled hands-on experience in marketing, operations, strategy, manufacturing, finance…you name it! I am incredibly grateful for the experience Good Hood Club has given me to date. Over time, I hope to watch the company grow, continuing to touch the lives of those battling childhood cancer.
On a personal level, Good Hood Club has been an invaluable healing method. The easiest way to deal with my pain is by transforming it into purpose. Good Hood Club has allowed me to do this, and for that, I am eternally grateful.
Austin: Do you think as a survivor of childhood cancer that there are enough support systems in place to help families and children?
Eloise: I think that there is always room for improvement. However, I am eternally grateful for the help and support I have received over my journey. The childhood cancer community is filled with exceptional individuals who have made invaluable contributions to the community. I would love to see additional resources in the realm of psychosocial support. For me, mental health has been a massive part of my journey with cancer; however, it has not necessarily been a massive part of my care. In my experience, cancer has been just as much a mental health disease as a physical one; yet, it is not treated as such. I hope for a future where both aspects are equally prioritized in cancer care protocols, right from the beginning.
Austin: Do you have any advice for young adults that survived childhood cancer that are struggling to find a career that will be fulfilling for them?
Eloise: It is easy to get caught up in what you think you want and should do versus exploring what you truly want and were meant to do. As a business student, I was on a path to a corporate career. I thought that was what I wanted. The second I took the opportunity to try new things and explore, I uncovered newfound passions I wanted to pursue. My advice would be to always experiment and try. Don’t stay committed to one path until you have taken the opportunity to see what else you might want to explore.
Eloise founded Good Hood Club with her university best friend, Chloe, to make their love for hoodies more meaningful and promote comfort during stressful times. 50% of Good Hood earnings go to POGO (Pediatric Oncology Group of Ontario) and their mission to achieve the best childhood cancer care system for children, youth, survivors and their families in Ontario and beyond.
Austin is an ALL survivor who is interested in music and is an avid drummer. He’s also passionate about giving back to cancer charities that helped him and his family during their cancer journey.