Veronica Hooper’s goal is to stay positive and move forward, no matter what life throws at her.
This philosophy has helped her support her daughter, who was diagnosed with cancer twice before the age of 11.
Hooper’s daughter Evie, now 14, was first diagnosed with Bilateral Retinoblastoma in her right eye at three weeks of age in 2007.
The family spent Evie’s first six months of life living in Ronald McDonald House at the Sick Children’s Hospital in Toronto where they did everything they could to feel “normal.”
“All I knew was that I had to do the best for my girl, and that no matter what, we’d keep moving forward,” says Hooper.
“Every day that we had her with us is a gift, and I’ve had that motto ever since she was first diagnosed.”
Her right eye was removed to keep the cancer from spreading and when the bulk of the chemo treatments were done, Hooper moved her two young daughters to Airdrie while continuing to travel to Toronto every three weeks for exams until the treatment was over.
Hooper went on to meet her husband Michael and have two more children before Evie was diagnosed with cancer a second time right before her 11th birthday. This time it was a stage 4 incredibly rare olfactory neuroblastoma that had spread to her lymph nodes. Hooper was told that her daughter’s chance of survival was 20 per cent.
“I didn’t want to focus on that as I knew that it wouldn’t help Evie get better or help us as a family to grow stronger,” says Hooper, adding that Evie’s treatment has involved seven courses of chemo, major surgery and proton radiation therapy, which took place in Florida.
Evie is doing well now despite some negative side effects of the intensive treatment program.
Michael, nominated his wife for the Amazing Courage Award, saying she always puts others before herself.
“Everything she does and all of the people she comes into contact with, she deals in love. It’s the only language she knows, anger isn’t in her vocabulary,” he says.