Chalk event held to raise awareness on childhood cancer
By: Viola Pruss
| Posted: Saturday, Sep 07, 2013 06:00 am
Chalking up some awareness is what Gloria Lovsin will have in mind when she draws some colourful pictures and writings in front of St. Albert Place this Sunday.
Perhaps a more unusual party for a teenager, Lovsin is celebrating her daughter’s 15th birthday with a special tribute to Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.
Maria Lovsin was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia in May 2012, after which her mother got in touch with the Kids Cancer Care Foundation of Alberta. This month the Calgary-based group is holding chalk events across the southern part of the province, and Gloria Lovsin said the timing was perfect for a similar event in St. Albert.
“We will have some ideas (of what to draw) and some of her friends are very artistic so they have an idea of their own,” she said. “I will come up with some sayings and have some pictures I found on the Internet and the kids can copy from that or do what inspires them.”
Maria Lovsin was 13 years old when she was first diagnosed with cancer and is now in the maintenance phase, which means that she returned to school and goes for chemotherapy every 28 days.
She said the cancer made her realize how common the disease is in children. Many people don’t know that, so raising awareness is important, she said.
“When I got diagnosed we asked how many kids are usually at the (Stollery Children’s Hospital) and we thought maybe 30 to 40 kids. But there are over about 500 … probably 50 get newly diagnosed each year,” she said.
According to statistics by the Kids Cancer Care Foundation, cancer is the leading cause of non-accidental death in children from age six months to young adulthood. The causes of childhood cancers are still unknown, with incidences highest in the first five years of life.
In Alberta, more than 100 children are diagnosed with cancer each year. At least 20 children die from the disease each year, though the Canadian Cancer Society estimates the survival rate for all childhood cancers at 82 per cent.
Lovsin said her cancer had a three per cent chance of being cured in the 1960s. Today, her disease is 98 per cent curable, thanks to research into leukemia. But the chalking event is not only about creating more recognition.
On Sunday, Maria Lovsin, family members and friends will draw inspirational quotes, pictures and prayers that helped many cancer patients get through the day. While Maria has taken on a more positive approach to her disease now – she said she lives every day to its fullest – Gloria Lovsin said the fear is often the hardest part to overcome. So she picked out one writing that will bring the message home.
“Some kids fear monsters and that can be chased away, other kids' fears need a cure,” she said. “It’s harder on teenagers they say, because they do have an understanding of what’s happening, whereas a child doesn’t understand – they just know it hurts.”
The chalk event will begin in front of the St. Albert Public Library at 10:30 a.m. on Sunday and move on to Maria's school, St. Albert Catholic High School, afterwards. Lovsin said anyone wanting to participate is more than welcome to join them.