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For past president Lorraine Chartier, the long and difficult journey of childhood cancer and its treatment began in 1991 when her youngest daughter Barbie was diagnosed with rhabdomyosarcoma. Life took a sharp turn at the Chartier residence with Lorraine attending to Barbie’s continuous medical needs while dad’s role became divided between pursuing his education, working, maintaining the well being of the entire family and numerous trips to Toronto; whilst their daughter Michelle stayed home and took on the responsibility of caring for her two brothers. During that period, most of Lorraine and Barbie’s time was spent in Toronto either at the Ronald Macdonald House or in the hospital during Barbie’s numerous surgeries and ongoing chemotherapy treatment.
After Barbie lost her long and courageous battle to cancer in 1996, Lorraine attended OPAC meetings in Toronto in an attempt to bring back the Rainbow CanCare support group in Sudbury. With the help of oldest daughter Michelle, and Janet & Guy (also bereaved parents), the foursome was determined to have a support group available to families in the Sudbury area who were dealing with childhood cancer. They understood the feelings of isolation following months spent out of town for their child’s treatment and the geographical challenges of not being able to attend support groups in Toronto upon their return home. After unsuccessful attempts to bring back Rainbow CanCare, the foursome, along with other parents founded Northern Ontario Families of Children with Cancer-NOFCC in the fall of 1998.
In 2000, the NOFCC began fundraising activities to provide financial assistance to families as well as providing them with emotional support. The NOFCC expanded their support from the Sudbury region to assisting families throughout Northern Ontario. Although fundraising proved exhausting and challenging, Lorraine remained adamant that we continue helping the outlying areas. She would always remind us that since NOFCC was the fourth group started in Sudbury and that it was the only one that had survived that long, it would be difficult for outlying areas to have groups of their own given their smaller population. She would also remind us that families living in Northern Ontario had to deal with challenges that families living in Southern Ontario didn’t have and that northerners had to stick together as one community. Today, years later… a successful registered charity that has seen over 200 newly diagnosed children within our chosen areas.
The charity is constantly growing, volunteers are continuously striving to make a difference and support from communities and community members continue to increase.