She didn’t really know what leukemia was.
Nelson’s Avie Waterfall had a vague awareness of the disease before her grandfather John Manifold was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia last summer, but she’s become intimately acquainted with it since he passed away.
“I was really close with my grandfather. We went on lots of family trips and he was a really big part of our family,” Waterfall told the Star.
“He died in April and shortly after his death I realized that I didn’t really know what it was, so I figured I’d research leukemia because I thought that would be smart. But then I realized I wanted to do more than research, I wanted to do something about it.”
And now, along with her best friend Marisa Price, Waterfall is travelling around to SD8 classrooms to educate her peers about the disease and encourage them to participate in their fundraising campaign Youth Fund Leukemia, which will benefit the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of Canada (LLSC).
And Price has picked up on the enthusiasm.
“I had a very small understanding of what leukemia was, and then when Avie told me she really wanted to do this I knew I wanted to help because she’s been my best friend for six years.”
So they started watching documentaries.
“For about two or three weeks all we were watching was leukemia documentaries, and we’d read about it, and even when I wanted to watch my favourite show she was like no, this is important, we need to understand what we’re going to raise awareness about.”
So what did they learn?
“Basically it’s a cancer that’s in the bone marrow, and it develops in the stem cells. It’s immature white blood cells that mass produce and eventually lose their purpose, so when a virus comes into the body there aren’t enough to fight it off.”
And since LLSC is the largest voluntary health organization dedicated to funding research and finding cures of leukemia, as well as ensuring access for blood cancer patients, she feels the money will be well spent.
The pair launched their campaign last week, and they’ve already raised over half of their $500 goal. Their campaign is exclusively made up of young people aged 13 and 14.
To support Waterfall’s campaign, visit chuffed.org/project/youth-fund-leukemia.