When Leisia Maruschak, an Ottawa mother of two grown children, got the results from a specialist in 2010, it was life changing. Her diagnosis? Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), an incurable blood cancer.
Every 28 minutes, another person is diagnosed. In Canada, more than 100,000 people are living with blood cancer and leukemias account for about half of childhood cancer cases.
Such news is always traumatic. “For the first 18 months following my diagnosis I lived my cancer,” Leisia has stated. “And living my cancer was an ugly place. It was a place full of fear.”
Not anymore, though. Instead, this local woman has found a way forward that is not only steadfast it’s also inspirational. In her words, CLL “offered me the opportunity to choose what was most important in my life and to put it first, to meet so many wonderful healers who now are an incredibly important part of my life, and YES to be the founder of cure: blood cancer.”
That’s right. She launched a non-profit organization to raise awareness about blood cancer and to support blood cancer research projects at leading North American Institutions. And, together with a group of family members, friends and supporters, she has raised close to $100,000.
No wonder Leisia has been awarded the Governor General’s Caring Canadian Award. This award recognizes Canadians who have made a significant, sustained and unpaid contribution to their community. It also highlights the example set by volunteers whose compassion and engagement are so much a part of Canadian character.
cure: blood cancer is 100 per cent cure-focused, 100 per cent volunteer-run and committed to ensuring 100 per cent of all public donations go to fund blood-cancer research projects. For details, see curebloodcancer.ca.