MacKena and Jackie Murray #mystoryourcentre #cancersupport
Jackie Murray believes she had cancer for a reason. When Jackie, now 42, was first diagnosed in the summer of 2012, she had no idea what the reason was. “I trusted that I would eventually know why I was given cancer,” Jackie says. She discovered that what she thought was a cyst on her breast was an aggressive cancer tumour and that tumour took her on an unplanned path of physical pain, new friends and strength.
She had surgery in October and moved into chemotherapy in November. “I reacted to my first treatment,” says Jackie. ““It took them two months to sort out my chemo.” Though she struggled with the chemo, her friends and family were there to support her. “My mum and dad flew in from Scotland to help take care of me,” she says. “I was fortunate to have so much support from my family and my friends.
Two months into her chemo treatments, Jackie started struggling with depression and a friend told her about the Georgian Bay Cancer Support Centre. “My dad brought me to my first gentle yoga class at the Centre,” says Jackie, smiling. “He would come and do yoga with me.” With little energy left from chemotherapy, she curled up on the yoga mat with a pillow and blanket and listened as the instructor led the class through the moves and meditations. “It was comforting,” she says.
As she moved through her radiation treatments, she participated more. Attending card making classes, Thursday’s Soup for the Soul, Strength and Tone and support group she became an avid member. Her daughter MacKena, 13, joined Jackie at the Centre as well taking card making classes and volunteering there to be close to her mother. “I love the Centre, “ says MacKena, holding a box of full of handmade cards created by members at the Centre. She pulls out a get-well card and notes it is her favourite as she opens it up to display a pop-up box with a tissue in it.
The Centre became not only a source of support for Jackie’s family, but also a place to support others.
In 2103, MacKena met Jen O’Shea another cancer survivor at the Penetanguishene Relay for Life event. “Jen had sneakers with a lift, and I was watching her and she was slipping around,” says MacKena, noting that Jen’s crutches were slipping and making it hard for Jen to move around.
“MacKena was inspired by Jen,” says Jackie, smiling at her daughter. “Jen had little medical coverage, no funding for her equipment and she was in need of custom made shoes and crutches.” Jackie leans over and picks a book Hope Lives Here up off the table in front of her. She opens it to page displaying a gray t-shirt with black lettering that says ‘Hip Hip O’Shea.’ “This is Jen,” she says, turning the page to show 24 pictures of Jennifer O’Shea having her head shaved. “She is a truly inspiring person.”
Jen was diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma in 2010 at the age of 25 and she had an internal hemipelvectomy that removed the right side of her pelvis. “Her leg is no longer attached to her skeleton,” says MacKena. “And her leg moves upwards by two and a half inches when she puts any weight on it.”
As Jen regained her ability to walk, MacKena started fundraising efforts with a goal of raising $2000 over the summer. Her project extended into the fall with the culmination fundraiser the Pink Pumpkin Campaign. She raised $1000 by selling over 100 pink pumpkins and exceeded her fundraising goal with a total of $2100.
In 2104, the goal was to double the pumpkin sales and donate the funds to the Georgian Bay Cancer Support Centre. “She went to every business in the Midland to raise funds for the pumpkin campaign,” says Jackie, who is an official pumpkin painter and part of the pink pumpkin team.
“I like helping people,” says MacKena. “ I plan to keep volunteering here.” MacKena, Jackie and their team raised $2400 last year.
Today, when Jackie reflects on why she had cancer she is very clear. “I was meant to be a part of the Centre’s community of warriors,” she says, adding that this is the place where she can be herself, joke and laugh. “The medicine for cancer is amazing and this Centre is part of the medicine that helped me heal.”
We want to hear your stories! Whether you are a cancer patient, survivor, caregiver or friend tell us your story with #mystoryourcentre #cancersupport and please give to Georgian Bay Cancer Support Centre. Then tag three of your family and friends so they share their #mystoryourcentre #cancersupport stories too! We can’t wait to read your stories. Let’s raise awareness for the Georgian Bay Cancer Support Centre together!