MyCedarbrae Blog

A place for all things Cedarbrae

Sharing the stories and experiences of those that make our community a home.

May 2023 Feature

Chloe’s Beads of Courage

Cancer is never an easy topic to talk about, but childhood cancer adds another level of complexity when trying to teach others about it. When asked what she would like others to know about childhood cancer, Lisa Lombardi wishes that people were more open and willing to learn about it, “You do not hear much about [childhood cancer] because nobody wants to talk about it and it’s uncomfortable for people who don’t know what it’s like.” As a parent to Chloe, who was diagnosed with a rare form of white blood cell cancer, Lisa is able to identify every hospital stay, test, and procedure that Chloe underwent once being admitted into the hospital in March of 2021.

Lisa describes Chloe’s diagnoses as being out of the blue, “We thought she had the flu, [as] she just stopped eating and her hands were sore… but she’s never really had a huge appetite so we didn’t think much of it.” They then went to the hospital after a week and the doctors took some samples but assumed that Chloe had an infection. The doctors assured Lisa that the infection should go away on its own, but if Chloe’s symptoms worsened then she would have to come back for further testing. Another week went by and Chloe still wasn’t eating. After trialling a day at school, Lisa got another call from the school saying that Chloe has gotten sick again. After that phone call, Lisa picked Chloe up from school and brought her straight to the hospital where they immediately did bloodwork, “Because of her chromosome deletion they thought maybe her kidneys were infected… within an hour, they were able to diagnose it as blood cancer.” Unprepared and in shock, Chloe was admitted to the Children’s Hospital that day. 

Once Chloe was diagnosed, both her and Lisa were in the hospital for months at a time for treatment and the recurring side-effects that followed. It was a difficult adjustment for the entire family as her step-dad, Travis had to stay at home to look after her baby brother and sister during the pandemic for remote learning, limiting stable work hours for Lisa and Travis and cutting down on the family income. Although Chloe will officially be in remission as of April 14th, 2023, Lisa says that it has been hard to be social and get back to a normal life. Throughout Chloe’s treatment, both Lisa and Travis found it was difficult to relate to others who did not understand their situation, and have fallen out of touch with friends and even some family members as a result, “People do not realize that the years pass but your entire life stops.”

During treatment, Chloe received a bead for every hospital stay, needle, and procedure that she experienced throughout treatment, amassing 2,396 Beads of Courage. The Beads of Courage organization is a non-profit that provides medical and arts based programs for children and families undergoing medical treatments as they strive to ‘model collaborative strategies to strengthen human connectedness through the gift of beads that bestow honour and express human caring.’ Although Chloe’s beads are a tangible representation of her bravery and strength, the string of beads also represents a thread of ‘support and connection for those affected by their loved one’s diagnosis.’ To Chloe and her family, the beads are a symbol for the many healthcare professionals that not only provided medical support but were also like family to them throughout treatment. It’s clear that the friendships that were created from the medical community and cancer support groups will stay with Chloe and her family forever.  

Join us for our first Community Carnival, Cedarbrae Celebrates Chloe on June 3rd, 2023 from 12:00-4:00 PM to as we celebrate Chloe’s cancer journey. As a family that has been in Cedarbrae for generations, the community centre is proud to announce that all net profits from the Carnival Games and Petting Zoo will go towards Chloe and her family for costs associated with treatment and recovery. See our events page for more information! 

We want to share YOUR stories and experiences of living in Cedarbrae!

If you would like to be interviewed or have a neighbour that you would like to nominate, email the Director of Communications today.