Raising awareness about childhood cancer

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Focusing the public’s awareness on childhood cancer is the goal of a young Woodstock couple who have had first-hand experience battling the disease.

“It needs funding like all the other cancers to develop better treatments and find cures,” Carla Garrett said.

Mark and Carla Garrett, a former reporter for the Woodstock Sentinel-Review, have teamed up with Sobey's acting store manager and her cousin Stephanie Harnock to organize the Go Gold! Teddy Bear’s Picnic. Slated for September 14 at Sobeys Woodstock the picnic is also designed to raise money for the Childhood Cancer Canada Foundation.

The event, which runs from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., features a bouncy castle, a golf game, and a candy drop by the Woodstock Fire Department.

A second part of the event will see funds raised inside Sobeys, through donations and raffle tickets for gift baskets, go towards assisting Stacey Springall, whose four-year-old daughter Ainslie Springall was recently diagnosed with brain cancer.

Carla Garrett, alongside Jessica Hagen and Tina Smith, will be bagging groceries inside Sobeys and will be on hand to answer questions about the disease.

The Garrett’s first ever Teddy Bear Picnic in support of the Childhood Cancer Canada Foundation was in 2011, following the diagnosis of a brain tumour in their son Xavier Garrett in 2010.

“It’s something you wish you didn’t have to do, but when faced with the situation head on, you can’t ignore it,” Carla Garrett said. “It’s such a horrible thing to believe children die from cancer that people would rather ignore it. But the truth is that the more people choose not to recognize it, the more children will die.”

In February 2010 Xavier, now 4, was diagnosed with a high-grade aggressive form of brain cancer. At only eight months old he endured 12 hours of emergency brain surgery followed by chemotherapy and 33 radiation treatments.

The family reached a milestone in early June 2011, when an MRI showed Xavier's tumour had not grown.

“He’s been in remission ever since, the biggest thing is he started school and that’s something we never would have imagined three years ago,” Garrett said. “At this point it’s regular follow ups and dealing with the side effects of treatment.”

The radiation treatments affected their son’s growth hormones, and he has suffered some hearing and vision loss.

“Other than that he is functioning as he should for his age,” Garrett said.






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