We are so thrilled to announce our first-ever Helen Stock Legacy Bursary Recipients! Congratulations Ryan Brown, Marggie Marks and Celine Grasdal! Although we initially planned to give out two bursaries, an anonymous donor generously sponsored a third bursary to help us support one more deserving oncology parent. We send them our deepest thanks! Our Helen Stock Legacy Bursary awarded $5,000 to each of these Oncology parents to help them in their post-secondary studies. Childhood Cancer does not just affect your family in the moment, it changes your entire life in so many ways. Financially, it can put a strain on a family for many years during and after treatment as they work their way out of the hole. Parents give up everything for their child. Many go into huge amounts of debt. This bursary is a way for Helping Families Handle Cancer to help them achieve their goals and can allow them to put their themselves and their family in a better financial position moving forward. Congratulations Ryan, Marggie and Celine. You are so very deserving.
The last 6 years of Ryan’s life have tested him beyond measure. During his Electrical Engineering Studies in Idaho, he and his wife spent weeks in and out of the hospital supporting their newborn daughter, Lucy, as she underwent multiple surgeries to treat a complex medical condition. Ryan made the difficult decision to postpone his studies for a year to support his young family. Once things settled down, they decided to move back to his hometown in Canada where Ryan continued to pursue his educational goals, this time studying Geography. He was in his third year at the University of Lethbridge when his son, Theodore (Teddy), who had just turned 2 years old, was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. Ryan’s life was once again turned completely upside down, forcing him to put his degree on the back burner. Along with all the adversity their family has faced, his wife also has a degenerative eye disease which has left her legally blind and five months into Teddy’s cancer treatment, Ryan and his wife lost their baby boy Johnny to a late-term miscarriage. During all of this, Ryan never lost faith. He put one foot in front of the other and resumed his studies. He hopes to graduate in 2023. We are proud to award this bursary to Ryan in recognition of his incredible fortitude.
An immigrant from Colombia and single mother of three children, Marggie Marks is already defying the odds by adding “graduate student” to her list of descriptors. Even more impressive is her passion for helping others: Marggie has been involved in an enormous amount of volunteer activities. But what truly blew us away, is the struggle and sacrifice Marggie went through to get where she is today. Marggie’s second daughter, Larissa, was nine months old when she was diagnosed with Glioblastoma Multiforme. Larissa fought bravely but unfortunately passed away from this aggressive cancer. Childhood cancer had already taken a toll on her and her then-husband’s financial and mental well-being. Bereavement added an extra layer of complexity, which ultimately caused their marriage to crumble. Still, Marggie pushed forward to raise her other two children, Danica and Sebastian, often working multiple jobs and turning to community support to stay afloat. Marggie’s personal experiences with childhood cancer, grief, disabilities, and mental health, plus the fact that she is both an immigrant and a person of colour, inspired her to help others through their difficult times as a trauma-informed Social Worker. Marggie continues to work two jobs to support her family on top of her studies. With this bursary, we are proud to recognize Marggie’s tremendous efforts and give her an extra hand as she navigates her practicum.
A few years ago, Celine took the plunge and decided to become a parent. Without being in a relationship, she had a miracle baby through in-vitro fertilization. Shortly after her son, Gryphon, was born, she heard the words that no parent ever wants to hear: “Your child has cancer.” Nine months after Gryphon was diagnosed, Celine wanted to regain some stability in her life and upgrade her credentials, so she enrolled at Athabasca University. While Gryphon was in the hospital undergoing intense treatment, Celine was right by his side, studying and writing papers to complete her Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. Just a few months ago, her little angel passed away from Neuroblastoma. On top of the immense grief she experienced since her son’s passing, she no longer qualifies for single-parent loans or child tax benefits – resources that she needed to stay afloat while in school. Despite the odds, Celine is pushing forward in her studies to honour her son’s memory. We are proud to award this bursary to Celine in recognition of her bravery and determination.