Paisley's childhood cancer story: Healing with joy as a family

When Paisley’s parents first brought her to the hospital, they did not expect how their lives would change overnight. At just 4 and a half years old, Paisley was diagnosed with leukemia. She would start chemotherapy the next morning.

“We went into the hospital not knowing what to expect and then it felt like we just never left,” Paisley’s mother, Lauren, remembers. “It was a tidal wave of emotions. We really didn’t know how to accept it. It was very surreal and terrifying.” 

Since Paisley had to begin her treatment right away, the family spent Christmas apart that year. The family endured many emotional hardships throughout the holiday season. Paisley’s two-year-old sister, Tenley, didn’t understand why her big sister couldn’t come home for Christmas.

“There were a lot of tears,” Lauren shares. “Christmas hasn’t been the same since. It’s not a good time of the year for us. I can’t help but think about families that are going through the same thing.”

Fortunately for Paisley and her family, they were able to connect with other families in similar situations soon after, finding a source of joy and support together.

Paisley looking up at the camera and eating ice cream

Building connections at Camp Goodtimes

Paisley’s treatment was a long and difficult process. However, in the summer of 2019, Paisley and her family found an opportunity for connection and healing when they attended Camp Goodtimes, a medically-supervised summer camp program funded by the Canadian Cancer Society.

At Camp Goodtimes, Paisley and Tenley met other children who were also living with cancer while their parents, Lauren and Graeme, connected with parents going through a similar experience.

Camp Goodtimes is one of those rare opportunities for parents and children impacted by cancer to be in a safe space and connect.
Paisley and Tenley playing on a trampoline in the lake
Paisley and Tenley at Camp Goodtimes

For Paisley, Camp Goodtimes was a place where she could do all the things expected of a child.

During our time at Camp Goodtimes, it was the first time that Paisley could just be a kid again. It’s silly, it’s fun and it’s all the things a kid would need and wish for. It’s amazing that the Canadian Cancer Society can provide that to families and kids who are going through treatment.

The family returned to Camp Goodtimes in following years, where they grew closer together, built lasting connections and helped other families along their cancer experiences.

“This year, we felt like not only were we able to heal some of the things we’ve gone through, but we were able to help other families heal as well,” Graeme says.

Paisley sitting on her father’s shoulders while they smile at the camera
Paisley and Graeme

Fundraising with Cops for Cancer

Camp Goodtimes inspired Paisley and her family to get involved in fundraising with Cops for Cancer, a partnership between first responders and the Canadian Cancer Society to raise funds for pediatric cancer research and support children with cancer and their families.  

The chief of the family’s local fire department was a participant in a Cops for Cancer cycling event when Paisley was diagnosed, and she was invited to be an honorary team member.

The amount of time and effort the Cops for Cancer riders put into fundraising is amazing. I wish they were able to see how much they have helped families heal.

Cops for Cancer holds a special place in the hearts of Paisley and her family, and they plan to continue fundraising and raising awareness about Camp Goodtimes and the Canadian Cancer Society.

Help change the lives of those affected by childhood cancer

February 15 is International Childhood Cancer Awareness Day, a call for global support to ensure that no child or their family goes through the cancer experience alone. With your donation to the Canadian Cancer Society, you can help fund groundbreaking cancer research and a nationwide support system for children like Paisley and her family.