From bake sales to races, one courageous teenager has raised $75,000 for Cancer Care after beating brain tumours herself as a child.
Abigail Stewart is a 14-year-old survivor, having gone through Langerhans Cell Histiocytosis, a cancer-like condition, as a young child. She is being honoured with the Outstanding Youth in Philanthropy Award at the Manitoba Philanthropy Awards celebration on November 13.
"When I was 4-years-old my mom had taken me to the doctor for a bump on the head. That bump turned out to be a three-inch tumour in my skull," says Stewart about her health journey.
After some tests, the doctors found a second tumour in Stewart's head.
"There was another one between my eye and my brain."
Stewart did undergo treatment but did not have brain surgery to remove the three-inch tumour.
"We went through rounds of chemo and steroids for about a year. The [tumour] near my eye they scraped out."
The treatment worked well, to the relief of the entire Stewart family.
"Now I'm in remission but I still go to the doctor for side effects. The tumour is still there but it's inactive," she says.
The first fundraising initiative that Stewart participated in was Cancer Care's Relay for Life.
"My whole family usually just joins me. My family has been very supportive of what I do," says Stewart of the running event.
Stewart lives with her mom and dad as well as three younger siblings.
Another idea Stewart had to raise money for Cancer Care was to host a bake sale. She had her first one in 2017.
"Originally it was just a couple of tables in the front yard of a friend's house. We handed out flyers and had it on the radio, just saying we're having a bake sale."
She didn't expect a simple event like this to garner much attention, but it did, and the subsequent years following, she had to find a bigger venue to host the event.
"Then last year it got really big and we had to rent out a church. We had bouncy castles and a silent auction," on top of also selling baked goods, says Stewart.
"We had a lot of family and friends who stepped up. Then there were some people that we didn't even really know that donated baking."
Due to the pandemic and having a brother who has asthma, the family will not be hosting a bake sale this year.
For any other children going through chemotherapy, Stewart sends her encouraging words, "Never give up."
She will be one of six recipients to receive a philanthropic award put on by the Association of Fundraising Professionals Manitoba Chapter as they host a virtual event in November.