Calgarians unite for a cause

Bringing hope to the brain tumour community

The Legacy Continues: Amela Gartner, left, together with Don Gartner and her wife, Celine Gartner, participate in the walk as they carry the legacy of their late loved one, Rochelle, at the Brain Tumour Walk at Edworthy Park, Calgary, on Saturday, June 10, 2023.
They created and formed Rochelle’s Army, whose members are Rochelle’s loved ones and supporters. (Photo by Tim Bati-el/The Press)
Brain tumour patients joined Calgarians as they demonstrated a strong camaraderie in the Brain Tumour Walk, aiming to raise awareness, gather funds, and spread hope to the community and individuals battling the disease.

The Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada successfully organized the walk into a hybrid event after three years of COVID-19 restrictions. With the help of various networks from the family, volunteers, health care, research and corporate teams, the foundation intends to change the lives of thousands of Canadians living with a brain tumour.

“The Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada operates 100 per cent on a donation basis. All the money we use for research and programming is from donations,” said Adam Lakusta, a volunteer Board Member on the Board of Directors of BTFC.

Lakusta highlighted that the foundation’s most significant is organizing walks across the country, where they gather funds, which has been active since 1985.

“We primarily finance research. The grants we offer range from small to big, but it definitely has value to emerging and established researchers.”

The foundation is committed to helping affected individuals through the available resources raised.

“We have scholarship grants for students with brain tumours; we also develop lots of materials for the survivors to look out for.”

He expressed his optimism that attendees at the event would feel good, hopeful and appreciate the strong sense of community.

“This event brings the whole family together and strengthens us to be with each other on this journey,” said Michela Sangregorio, a daughter of a brain tumour patient.

Living with someone afflicted with the disease takes a lot of effort, patience, and sacrifice.

“It is really difficult and challenging as we have to balance the family and caregiver relationship, especially since this is a role that we never asked to take.”

Looking at her mom in a wheelchair, she passionately expressed her family’s love and support to her mother while tears fell down her eyes.

“My mom was given a low life expectancy; despite the difficulties, she is still here 20 years later.”

Lisa Sangregorio, front, brain tumour patient for 20 years, joins the Brain Tumour Walk in Calgary at Edworthy Park on Saturday, June 10, 2023. Despite the condition, her family assisted and supported her at the event to spread to the community that there is still hope. Sangregorio beat the odds in her situation as she is really fighting against cancer over the years. (Photo by Tim Bati-el/The Press)

Participants’ stories are unique; their situations are different; regardless of the circumstance, they aim to create an influence.

Marcella Sangregorio, Michela’s sister, uttered, “There can be many physical barriers to brain cancers, and I hope our story becomes a good example that people can overcome those.”

“Never be scared to reach out for help.”

The support from various groups was evident from their customized shirts, banners, and colourful paraphernalia.

Naomi Pearson, whose sister was diagnosed with a brain tumour, organized her sibling’s team to show her love and help raise funds for a significant purpose.

“This was a great opportunity to support the cause and ensure that other people going through it get the assistance they need,” she stated. “It takes a lot of people to support a family experiencing it.”

People hope the country strongly desires to conduct comprehensive research and programs that provide more advanced knowledge and solutions for brain tumours.

“I hope this event leads to finding better ways of treating and caring for people dealing with it.”

In the middle of a hot afternoon, a couple has shown that the enduring love of parents never fades away in life.

Don Gartner described her daughter, Rochelle, as an angel who passed with glioblastoma at 45.

Thank God we had time … It was a joy to have her in our lives.

Reminiscing about Rochelle’s journey, he smiled and shared the passion and love of his daughter for dancing that started at a young age.

His wife, Celine Gartner, humbly recalled that Rochelle excelled in dancing inside and outside the country.

Everything seemed alright until they found out their daughter had glioblastoma.

“It was absolutely shocking,” said the couple.

Despite the diagnosis, Rochelle did not let her situation put her down. She got invited to various media interviews with her message, “Live and enjoy life.”

Rochelle was known as a fighter, but after almost two years of battling, the cancer took her life.

Tears rolled down their faces, remembering the agony of their daughter and the pain of losing their very own.

“It was a rough journey; everybody will react differently.”

With their experience, the couple urged the family members of people fighting the disease to be supportive, create memories and make the most out of it.

“Thank God we had time that we spent with her. It was a joy to have her in our lives.”

Megan Dow, a brain tumour patient, raises the banner with the signatures of those who came to support her at the Brain Tumour Walk at Edworthy Park, Calgary, on Saturday, June 10, 2023. Dow was diagnosed with a brain tumour in July 2021. With the support of her family, she continues to fight with bravery. (Photo by Tim Bati-el/The Press)
About Tim Bati-el 8 Articles
As a news reporting and communications major in the journalism program at SAIT, Tim Bati-el is working as a writer for The Press in 2023.