Bruce-Grey-Owen Sound MPP Bill Walker says he was humbled by the support and personal stories that emerged during an hour-long debate at Queen’s Park on his motion to declare the month of September as childhood cancer awareness month in Ontario.
“It was truly humbling to hear today the emotional impact that cancer has had on all of us. There is truly no greater pain than to see your own child in pain,” MPP Walker said. “The intent of my motion was to empower children and youth living with cancer by letting them know that they are not alone, and that we will do better for them by standing united to conquer childhood cancer.”
As many as 400 children are diagnosed with childhood cancer in Ontario every year. While four in five will survive, a majority will suffer long-term effects, including infertility, heart disease and hearing loss.
As a result of the unanimous support received today, MPP Walker hopes to inject new hope into fundraising for family support, research, and ultimately saving children.
“When you consider that somewhere this very moment there is a family packing up and driving to the Hospital for Sick Children, the Children’s Hospital in London, the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario, Kingston General, or to McMaster Children's Hospital, that their world has been turned upside down and their child is hurting, you can't begin to imagine the raw emotions, the self-doubts and uncertainties facing these parents,” MPP Walker said. “In the words of my hero, Terry Fox, somewhere the hurting must stop.”
MPP Walker said he also had personal reasons for dedicating his private member's ballot date to the children and families living with cancer in Ontario.
“This was also in memory of Conah Higgins and Brendan Rourke, and, furthermore, to recognize the tireless advocacy work of Brendan’s father, Neal, who is raising funds and awareness for young boys and girls whose childhoods have been regretfully cut short,” he said.
The motion also called on the province to recognize the gold ribbon as the awareness symbol of childhood cancer.
MPP Walker’s resolution was supported by ChildCan, a London-based non-profit that supports childhood cancer research. A number of stakeholders attended today’s debate, including Desboro native and advocate Neal Rourke, Antonia Palmer, founder of Neuroblastoma Canada and Co-Founder Ac2orn, Susan Juczynski from Children with Cancer, Renee Simmons and Kathleen Barnard from Childcan, Natasha Bowes from Childhood Cancer Canada, Clare Davenport, CEO of Childhood Cancer Canada, Patricia Zareba with Childhood Cancer Canada, Ron Mitchell, Co-Founder Coast to Coast Against Cancer Foundation, Jacqui DeBique from Pediatric Oncology Group of Ontario (POGO), and Marjorie Morrison, CEO, Canadian Cancer Action Network.