“This world is not about you. It's not about me. It's about everyone else. And the only time you're important is when you're helping somebody else.”
-Darlene Olsen, Creative Tables for Cancer 2017
The 10th edition of Creative Tables for Cancer was held Thursday, Oct. 12 at Arcola's Prairie Place Hall. The event - which is celebrating a decade of fundraising - was founded by Arcola's Darlene Olsen, and received special recognition this year as Olsen was named one of only 25 Heritage Heroes in Canada by Look Good Feel Better.
As usual, Prairie Place Hall was filled with tables that embodied the word “creative.” And as usual, the event was a sold-out success, with a waitlist of those eager to host a table or attend, or both.
Businesses, organizations and individuals once again generously donated to the event, which in just 10 years, has raised well over $400,000 for Look Good Feel Better and more recently, the Moose Mountain Medical Recruitment Committee.
Michelle Pilon, Look Good Feel Better's Western Regional Manager, made the trip from Calgary for this year's event and told the crowd: “This is one of the best events I've ever been to. It's off the charts; the creativity is off the charts. It's a beautiful way to bring friends, family and community together and I can't wait to share it with my colleagues.”
“Thank you for supporting our charity. We couldn't do what we do without volunteers and funding.”
Sunita Prasad of the Mary Kay Ash Charitable Foundation in Mississauga, Ontario agreed, adding: “Of every dollar donated to the Mary Kay Ash Charitable Foundation - which donates the money back to Look Good Feel Better - 96 cents goes to the charity, with only four cents of every dollar to administration.”
“ Thank you and congratulations on 10 amazing years of Creative Tables in Arcola!”
This year, two guest speakers touched attendees with their stories of battling cancer.
Thirty-seven-year old Charmaine Wudrick of Radville made her first visit to Creative Tables with a group of girlfriends for the fundraiser's 10th edition. The mother of two was diagnosed with breast cancer, underwent a double mastectomy and underwent 16 rounds of chemotherapy. She met Olsen at Regina's Allan Blair Cancer Center while participating in a Look Good Feel Better workshop.
“Going through cancer is a personal journey that most women go through alone,” said Wudrick. “ I was fortunate enough to have an army of girlfriends rally around me and accompany me to each and every appointment, chemo round and surgery date.”
“But what I mean when I say that most women who go through cancer alone is that our besties aren't diagnosed with us. They can't offer advice because they haven't gone through loss of hair, eyebrows, eyelashes or how to dress for our new shape.”
“When we don't know something we usually turn to our mother figures for advice and help,” explained Wudrick. “Darlene and the Look Good Feel Better group do this every month for a group of women diagnosed with cancer and undergoing treatments. She is the mother of all mother advisors and brings all her little peeps together.”
“I can assure you, we all left Look Good Feel Better with a little more sparkle than we went in with,” concluded Wudrick. “And many of us have built lasting friendships far stronger than cancer's hold. It is an amazing, selfless act that the women of Look Good Feel Better do for women diagnosed with cancer each and every month.”
Nine-year-old keynote speaker Payton Sernick of Estevan told the capacity crowd: “Cancer is a disease that can happen to anyone - even kids.'
Payton - assisted by her seven-year-old brother, Beckham and her mother Andrea - gave a slideshow chronicling her cancer journey, which began when she was in grade one, when she was diagnosed with both Stage 4 leukemia and Stage 4 lymphoma.
“I was six-years-old and I had stomach pains a lot of the time and leg pain in my right leg,” she explained. “I had hundreds of little tumours and three major ones.”
After over 200 days spent in hospitals - including a stay in Regina General where she spent 40 days in one room without leaving - Payton earned 1,280 “Beads of Courage.”
A large container of necklaces made of glass beads - each colour representing a different medical procedure - and her stuffed monkey, Bananas were reminders of Payton's years of treatment.
“My monkey Bananas went to school for me. I didn't go to school for me,” she said. “I did school in the hospital when I could. I did my music class with Facetime and sometime it worked and sometimes it didn't.”
“Each bead represents something I did,” she said. “A treatment or a scan or something...”
“And I am one of the reasons Saskatchewan needs a children's hospital.”
As a result of her experience, Payton is now a Junior Ambassador for the Children's Hospital Foundation of Saskatchewan and with her family, has already raised over $35,000 for the cause – and this year, Creative Tables will make a contribution in her name.
“Kids with cancer are very brave,” concluded Payton.
Olsen said: “I really have to pinch myself when I think of how this all started. We started out with 160 people, which grew to 320 people and now, we're at 400 and a little bit.”
“Many hands make light work and seriously, there are so many people to thank for making Creative Tables for Cancer happen year after year,” added Olson.
“Thank you all from the bottom of my heart.'