The 3,800 Club: All grown up and still giving back
When I first met Brendan Whieldon, he was five years old and battling cancer. Sixteen years later, he and his mother are still dedicated fundraisers for cancer research.
Brendan Whieldon was just five years old when I met him, and already in the fight of his life.
He was battling cancer and faced with seemingly impossible odds. Doctors had given him just a five per cent chance of survival.
One thousand, one hundred and sixty-seven days of chemo. Fifteen days of radiation. For eight years he fought cancer. And he won.
Little did I know when I met Brendan and his mom Shannon Whieldon some 15 years ago in my job as a reporter that one day, I too would battle cancer.
How could I have ever predicted that so many years later, it would be them encouraging me as I continue to work through the side effects from chemotherapy for breast cancer?
It’s hard not to be inspired by Brendan and his mom, who are not only fighters, but have always believed in giving back.
As a little kid, Brendan, with his mom at his side, sold thousands of calendars to raise money for cancer research.
And for the past eight years they have been a part of the “Spin” for Childhood Cancer fundraiser, which helps ease the financial burden for families.
Last Friday, I had the privilege of joining Brendan, now 21 years old, and his mom along with more than 100 others at the Cloverdale Rec Centre to take part in this year’s indoor cycling event (stationary bikes – even I could do this!). More than $36,000 was raised.
Shannon is one of the event organizers and along with Brendan, helped recruit more than half of the 21 teams that took part.
“It is an opportunity to give back and show thanks,” explains Shannon. “We are grateful that we were constantly propelled in the right direction, connected with the right people… and had so many grass roots people going the extra mile that we were able to make it.”
And she understands why fundraisers like the “Spin” event are so important.
“In your worst of times when you are wondering if your child will live and also wondering how you will pay for the feeding tube supplies and the pharmacy bill, and a stranger suddenly gives you a grant of $500 you are simply in awe. You feel like you have been given a gift from an angel.”
I thought of Brendan and his mom while I was going through treatment. I thought of their determination. What a privilege it’s been over the years to tell their story, not knowing one day they would become part of mine.
Michele Brunoro will be providing ongoing updates during her medical leave on her blog, The 3,800 Club.