FarmFest 2023 Charity of Choice

Being 4 years old should be fun. Playing and games should be the norm, not doctors visits and hospitals.

It wasn’t long after Matteo’s 4th birthday that he started getting sick. Very sick.

His Mom knew something was wrong, but doctors, pediatricians, nor the hospital could find anything wrong. His belly still hurt. An ultrasound was done, and he was sent home from the hospital. They were back the next day as he was dehydrated. IVs. More tests. Multiple phone calls to multiple doctors. Stomach aches, crying, puking, no sleep. X-rays, bloodwork, urgent care visits both in Chatham and London.

Finally, one doctor said: “These could be signs and symptoms of a brain tumour”. A CT scan was ordered. It was going to take 5-7 days and Matteo’s Mom, Bianca, couldn’t wait any more. It had been almost a month since the first symptoms had appeared and Matteo was in pain. At the hospital the doctor on call wanted a second opinion to discharge them (again) but Bianca and Dad, Chad, stood their ground and told the doctor: “We came, we want a CT scan, and we are not leaving without one”.

The CT scan took place at around midnight. Around 3am they were told: “I’m sorry. We have found a 2cm tumour in Matteo’s brain”. Suddenly, things started moving quicky. Very quickly. So quickly that by the time they had signed the last consent form they had just enough time to kiss the top of Matteo’s head and walk him down the hallway into surgery.

The tumour was 2cm wide, but 6cm long. The surgeons managed to remove most of it. Pathology confirmed it was medulloblastoma, a very aggressive brain cancer. To be sure that there were no residual cancer cells left, Matteo would start chemo. The family have been told that the cancer has since progressed and it’s now a question of seeing how Matteo reacts to the medicine.

When I chatted to Bianca as she was telling me their story, I could hear Matteo playing in the background. Bianca told me, “It feels good to hear him chat and see him play. Especially as tomorrow he starts his 3rd cycle of chemo. He is responding to it”. Matteo loves Spiderman and Bart Simpson. Playing will get him through the treatments. Childcan will help his family too.

“Renee is so comforting. Meal Vouchers. Parking. The Care Package. It’s all been very, very helpful. We appreciate it more than anything. It’s been crazy. And expensive. Even to eat, especially as Matteo won’t eat hospital food. He won’t even let me take the lid off”.

Matteo and his family should be thinking about starting school. Instead, his family are thinking about the next round of treatments in Toronto. Thanks to the support from generous donors, Childcan will be able to help them with some of the costs associated with that too. Giving the family one less thing to worry about.

This generous family have also registered for the Childcan Pyjama Walk in September. “We won’t be able to be there as we will be in Toronto for Matteo’s treatments, but we want to encourage others to give so that Childcan can help other families.”

We are so grateful to Bianca for sharing Matteo’s story. We hope that Matteo is playing again soon and not in a hospital. In the meantime, his Mom wants everyone to know: #MatteoIsAHero.  

Dylan's Story

What Childcan means to US!!

First off l want to say that no family should have to go through what we and others have gone through and continue to go through. With that being said, l am not sure where our family would have been without Childcan, and not just financially but emotionally as well. When this terrible journey of our started we absolutely had no idea where this would take us let along end up. We were introduced to Renee from Childcan, and she remained close to us through our family journey and my son’s treatment. Our son Dylan who was 15 at the time was diagnosed with Non -Hodgkin’s Lymphoma Burkitt B cell. We were told this would be an aggressive treatment for him. Through this Childcan provided us with meal coupons to help offset the financial expenses of meals.

Although the meal coupons were a big help for us more important was the support and conversation that Renee would have with us. She was always there for us to confide in and to simply just vent about our situation. Renee also attended appointments with us when she was available. I can honestly say that had it not been for the multiple conversation that Renee and l had, l am not sure we would have made it through this as smooth as we did. But Renee’s connection to us didn’t stop after treatment. We had a long road of weekly, to biweekly to monthly appointments ahead of us and Renee would always stop by to say hi and check in with us. To this day we still stay in contact with each other occasionally. To our family Childcan is not just an organization that helps families whose children are going through cancer treatment. They are an organization that honestly cares about each and every family they help!

Not being a government funded organization and basically funding themselves through donations and events my younger son Austin who was 13 at that time wanted to give back. For that reason, we ran a curling bonspiel for the next 3 years with all the proceeds going back to Childcan. This was our way of saying Thank -You for being there. The people at Childcan are very supportive and not just an organization, they are an added support systems and one we are lucky to have!!


The Haddock Family!!


Braden's Story

When our son Braden was diagnosed at age 12 with Osteosarcoma (same cancer as terry Fox), we did not know how much our world was about to change. Braden went through four years of surgeries, chemotherapy, radiation and an amputation (had to learn how to walk again). Childcan was a calm in the storm. Braden despised the hospital food, as most do, Childcan provided food vouchers so he would eat, a necessity when fighting cancer.

Childcan provided parking passes for our family since we would spend weeks at a time for chemotherapy treatments at the hospital, all overnight stays. Assistance was also offered to those who needed help meeting bills, we were fortunate not to need this support, however met many families at the hospital that did.

Childcan also hosted trips to Wonderland for families as well as yearly Christmas parties to give the children something to look forward to. Nurses accompanied us on trips to allow for all the children to attend who might need medical assistance.

As a family with Braden’s help, we created the Russell 3 on 3 “Stick it to Cancer” three on three hockey tournament. Braden wanted to give back to the organizations that supported him. Childcan was our Charity for two of the eight years the tournament ran.

After Braden passed in 2015 at age 16 following his unfair battle with cancer, Chidcan offered support with the funeral expenses as well as emotional support, linking us with other families experiencing a similar loss.

We believe Childcan is a most worthy charity as it provides direct support to families in Chatham-Kent facing a Childhood cancer journey. No one wants to hear the words “your child has cancer”, but should you have this misfortune you want Childcan on your side.

We thank the Red Barn for considering Childcan as their worthwhile charity for Farm Fest!

Scott and Ginny Russell


Sophia's Story

My entire world fell apart when I heard the news that my beautiful daughter, Sophia, was diagnosed with stage 4, rhabdomyosarcoma an extremely aggressive cancer. Shortly after receiving this devastating news and a protocol of radiation and a series of several inpatient chemo therapies ~referred to as ‘big gun’ chemo, we had a visit from someone from Childcan, a local nonprofit organization. Her name was Renee and honestly, at the time, was such a welcomed soul. She was the most calming, gentle, kindest soul that entered this wild journey that we had just begun. Renee was just a breath of fresh air who offered assistance to us financially in the way of help with gas costs, hospital meal vouchers and more importantly understanding and support. Renee was a shoulder to lean on and had so much compassion as she understood the chaos of fighting for your child’s life. Childcan is truly an amazing light of hope when your entire world is turned upside down and rocked to its core. I am forever grateful to Renee and her team at Childcan.

Thank you so much for supporting such an amazing cause.

Jodi Vlasman, Sophia’s Mom


Cory's Story

Childcan to our family was a very important part of my son's 10 year battle with cancer. My son Cory Schives was diagnosed with Hodgkins lymphoma in February of 1999. Without the support of Childcan the simple things we take for granted in life would have been a lot more difficult. For myself personally they helped me with my stay at Ronald Mcdonald house by paying for my visits, I was produced food vouchers making it possible to eat a meal instead of junk food only, when I had a vehicle with me my parking at the hospital was always taken care of and they always had an extra ear to vent in as well. For my son they were absolutely fabulous....always providing entertainment, games, crafts and on the occasion we were there during Christmas holidays it certainly didn't feel like you were in hospital. Not only did they provide for my son but always always included his brother in whatever was going on if he was visiting with us. They had a program called bravery beads...for both the patients and the siblings...which provided special beads with whatever procedure was happening and special special support beads for th siblings. Childcan is an amazing charity that I support and will always support.


Sandy Russell


Ronny's Story

Life is like a road trip. Everyone’s trip is different but we all face speed bumps, ridges, valleys, and even roundabouts when you are to change direction.  Sometimes, you can be going 80-100km and other times you feel like you’re in a traffic jam.  Along the way, you will find signs and people who help you along that trip and that can make the trip more memorable. By now, I hope I have you thinking! What does this all mean? Let me tell you our story.

Our life road trip is like most, get married, have children and raise those children to the best of our ability.  We were the typical average family, until March 23, 2017.  Our youngest son, Ronny had been experiencing symptoms, such as a lazy eye, off balance and losing his coordination.  After eye doctor appointments and trying to get into the doctor, we finally took him to London’s Sick Kids ER.  Within 24 hours, we heard those frightening words, your child has CANCER.  That word in itself is a bombshell, but with it being followed up with, it is DIPG (Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma) and it is fatal with an average of 6-9mths after diagnosis.  With our world being turned upside down, our life stopped and we were at a standstill.  There is a lot to take in when you hear that diagnosis and that is where one of those signs had shown up and helped along this trip to get us moving again.  One of our many signs was CHILDCAN.  CHILDCAN is an amazing non-profit organization that we have never heard of before, but will never forget them and always support them in any way we can.  

CHILDCAN met with us within 2 days of Ronny being admitted and the first thing, they did was talk about what they do and that we can reach out to them with any questions and that they are there to help along the way.  They work with all childhood cancer patients families and help with providing parking passes, gas cards, food cards and even help with paying bills depending on each family’s needs.  Having a child with cancer can be a financial strain because it affects children across all economic classes.  For us, the parking pass was invaluable.  Ronny was in the hospital from Wednesday till Monday and our car was in the emergency parking lot for the duration so you can only imagine the parking cost for that.  In addition, Ronny over the course of his diagnosis had numerous hospital visits, 42 radiation treatments and each time that parking pass was used and we were truly grateful for it.  

Ronny passed January 29, 2018 at the age of 7 from DIPG, 10 months after diagnosis.  Our life road has taken many turns since 2017 but we are still on the road and travelling 80km most days.  We are also thankful to CHILDCAN and their help along the way.  The Tuukka Cup, is a 3 on 3 road hockey tournament that is held annually in August in Ronny’s memory.  Proceeds from this tournament go towards 3 charitable organizations that helped us during Ronny’s journey and hold a special part in our hearts; one being CHILDCAN.  

For  more about Ronny’s journey go to
or info about the Tuukka Cup go to


If you need more info on CHILDCAN go to
https://www.facebook.com/Childcan or https://childcan.com/