A Wish and a Wig Trade with Karen Gillan

Bronwyn’s Make A Wish Wish

When Bronwyn was first asked what she would like to wish for it was all about Dr. Who. She wanted to go to the Dr. Who Experience in Cardiff, visit filming sites in the area and maybe even the studio. If her treatment had gone according to plan she would have been done in the summer of 2012. She would have been able to travel soon afterward and had her wish. Maybe we would have even been able to meet Matt Smith, Karen Gillan, Arthur Darvill, Alex Kingston or any of the other wonderful people who have had a hand in Dr. Who’s creation! Who knows what would have been possible!

When Bronwyn suffered heart failure her dreams of any future were forgotten for a time. When she survived one of the things we came to realize were no longer possible was Bronwyn’s Wish. It would be quite sometime before she would be able to travel again and there is a real chance once she is able she will be too old to qualify for a Wish. Yes, it is possible to age-out of the Make a Wish program.

There was a day, not to long ago when Sinead announced, “Today Matt Smith filmed his regeneration.” With that statement I knew our last chance to maybe see Matt as the Doctor was gone. Yes, I realize there was a slim chance we would have been able to visit a Dr. Who filming with Matt ….but…..one can dream.

One thing we will strive to do once Bronwyn is well is go to Cardiff and see her wish fulfilled, come what may!

Wig Trade!

On July 12th, 2012, only days after her first steps after open heart surgery, Bronwyn and her sister, Sinead had a remarkable day thanks to the Prom the took place at Sick Kids for all the teen patients. They supplied hair and makeup services and helped with clothes and accessories for those that needed them. Sick Kids is fantastic at going the extra mile!

Bronwyn took a wig sent to her by her cousin, Kiri Butter, to the hairdressers. She went from this:
prom day-2
 to this:
prom day-14
And then the makeup took her to this:
Amy? …..As I was snapping away, capturing the moment, I was stunned at what I saw through my lense. With just a wig and a little makeup Bronwyn was transformed into Amy Pond…. Karen Gillan!

When we got back to Bronwyn’s hospital room I had to take a few pictures of Bronwyn with her poster just to prove the resemblance:
amy-2prom day-31

On July 20th, 2013 Karen Gillan showed up to Comic-Con looking like this:
and in a surprise move…..
….ended up like this:

Now Karen and Bronwyn have something in common: they know that the best part about being bald is at the end of the evening you can take off your hair:

prom day-55
“Mommy, take off my hair.”

Bonus shots from the Prom: SISTERS!
prom day-37prom day-38
prom day-41

The Next Chapter Begins!

are you ready


January, 6th: I took Bronwyn to ER to see if the cold she had been battling for 2 months had developed into pneumonia. Her lungs were clear so the ER doctor suggested we follow up with her GP.

January, 11th: After Dr. Bukovy checked her over and found nothing he sent her for routine blood work, just in case….. I love this man.

January, 12th: Dr. Bukovy called me and with a shaken voice he told me Bronwyn needed to come into the hospital the next day to be tested for leukemia.

January, 13th: Bronwyn and I were airlifted from the Health Sciences Center in Thunder Bay to the Children’s Hospital in London, Ontario.

January, 15th: Bronwyn was diagnosed with pediatric acute myeloid leukemia. We were told treatment would take 6 months and Bronwyn would have to stay in the hospital. Life as we knew it stopped completely. Despite the build up I was completely shocked. I was convinced it could not really be cancer, at the worse, mono. I would give everything for it to mono.

February, 23rd: Bronwyn is in remission. This does not mean cancer free. It’s means that less than 3% of Bronwyn’s blood cells were leukemia blast cells. [remission means less than 5%]

April, 30th: Bronwyn’s last day of chemo. Her blood counts rebounded so well after every round she finished two months earlier than expected.

May 11tth: Barry arrives from Thunder Bay. A couple of days of relentless fever caused me enough worry to call him. So glad I did. So glad he came ASAP.

May 13th: “My chest hurts.” The comment that changed the course of Bronwyn’s journey. What followed was a flurry of doctor activity, blood work, echos and other tests.

May 16th: Bronwyn’s heart function deteriorates quickly overnight. She is airlifted to Sick Kids. There we are told she would die. With only 20% heart function and blood counts so low surgery was out of the question. There was no way she would survive.

May 21st: The Shitty Day. We had to tell Bronwyn that the doctors were saying she would not live. We had to help her make end of life decisions. Who would she like to see? What would she like to say? What would she like us to do in her memory? I don’t know what else you could call a 15 y/o having to make these kind of decisions but shitty.

May 30th: One month after her last chemo treatment and we are told for the last time that Bronwyn has hours to days. We are shown a room that she will be moved to to make her as comfortable as possible. It’s the palliative care room.

May 31st: Bronwyn’s blood counts jump well into the normal range over night. We are told she is now eligible for surgery. She will receive an LVAD, a pump inside her heart to force the blood through the left ventricle to the rest of her body. The LVAD is the only heart assist device that can be inside the body for years. Bronwyn will not be eligible for the heart transplant list until 2 years post cancer diagnosis, that means she can’t be listed until Jan. 15th, 2014 and then she has to wait for a heart and that could be 6-12 months, even more. She is never moved into that other room.

June 3rd: VAD DAY! At 2pm Bronwyn had the surgery that would save her life. Four hours later it was done and was a great success.

July 6th: Bronwyn takes her first steps.

August 9th: Bronwyn is the first child to be discharged from Sick Kids with a VAD. [Seven months in the hospital!] A new journey begins outside.

November 29th: Bronwyn is admitted for internal bleeding, one of the side effects of taking blood thinners to prevent blood clots.

December 3rd: Bronwyn undergoes surgery to have one ovary removed. The ovary had a cluster of blood cysts on it that were bleeding. If the cysts were just removed there was a chance that they would return. We all decided it would be best to just get rid of the whole ovary and be done with it. It was a great success!

December 21st: Bronwyn is discharged just in time to enjoy Christmas. Sinead arrived from Thunder Bay for the holiday.  She was living in our house while finishing her last year of high school.


June, 4th-7th: We travel to Thunder Bay to watch Sinead graduate, with honours! Sinead joined us in Toronto in July. It’s so good to have her with us.

July, 1st: We move out of Ronald McDonald House into an apartment in downtown Toronto. We must stay in Toronto as there is no VAD center in Thunder Bay. Our house there is packed up and put into storage. We no longer have a home.

September, 3rd: Bronwyn becomes the first kid in Ontario to attend public school with a VAD.

October, 9th-15th: Bronwyn gets to visit Thunder Bay one last time before she is put on the transplant list.

November 8th! [Tomorrow!] Bronwyn will finally begin the process to be approved for the heart transplant list! The first step is to be cleared of cancer. Bronwyn will have a bone marrow aspirate at 9am. AML is a nasty cancer that loves to hide and make a comeback but when it does it usually happens in the first year after diagnosis. The chance of relapse drops to about 15% after one year and down to less than 5% after two. Plus, she is having blood work done all the time. Even though the blood work done is not specifically to look for cancer, if there was something happening, it would have showed up in a drastic change in her counts.

So, all I want to know is: ARE YOU READY?!

We are entering a new chapter in Bronwyn’s journey! Once we get the results of this test other tests will be booked. [I’m not sure what has to be done. We find out when we need to know.]

Step one to being listed: Bone Marrow Aspirate! Can’t wait to check this one off!!

Let the Heart Journey begin!!!!!!!

A National Priority- Get Involved

Watch and share! Let’s make childhood cancer research a global priority!

Knitting Rays of Hope

We are participating and Taking a Stand by sharing a YouTube Documentary on Childhood Cancer!  Please take a few moments to watch the video and please share it on all of your social media platforms!

The YouTube video is at http://bit.ly/1aRUBxe

The Truth 365 has a website that you can visit and get involved (link).  From The Truth 365:

The goal of The Truth 365 is to educate and mobilize millions of people through Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and other social networking sites. The film will inform the public that there is a critical need for funding for pediatric cancer research and that they, the NCI and our elected leaders are in a position to help. Through the film, we will introduce millions of people to the world of childhood cancer and inspire them to join our cause. We will accomplish this by showing very personal, compelling and inspiring…

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United we stand.

Nicole Scobie has done it again. She has written what my heart is saying in such a beautiful, approachable way. Topics:  We can live in space but can’t defeat a leukemia cell in a child; yes, we’re jealous of the pink movement, it’s amazing, let’s learn from and support it; the gold movement, not just a visual display. Click on the link and have a good read.

Don’t miss Cole’s order for all of us! It’s a great way to start your day!


Bronwyn made this mini documentary in the Filming Ourselves class at Gilda’s Club Toronto in the spring of 2013. This is the project that gave Bronwyn her voice. Before her involvement in this class she didn’t talk much. She faced cancer with a stoic resolve that it would not break her. She did not suffer foolish questions from doctors and nurses well. [“Foolish” by her standards.] I was her mouth piece. She would talk to us, her family, but never about what she was going through, never about the cancer. I credit Gilda’s Club for giving her an outlet to safely face her beast. Since this film was made Bronwyn has spoken at a few fundraisers and will speak at the National Day of Awareness and Action this Saturday at HTO Park, just before the CN Tower goes gold. I will also be making an announcement about the Knitting for Gold project. It will be the official, public announcement.