Andrea Gaspar

Please read the inspiring words of Andrea Gaspar, another of our amazing Heroes!

I became involved in the RACH Tournament in 2007. It was a natural place for my energies as my son had been diagnosed with a brain tumour in 2006 at 10 years of age. We were new to Parry Sound at the time. After surgery, treatment and months of rehabilitation, we found ourselves back home. I was trying to get my bearings in the world as I finally had some time to contemplate this "new normal." It rocks the foundation of your world to have your child diagnosed with cancer and while my son was doing pretty well, I was terrified. I was terrified the tumour would return. I was so tired, I didn't think I could handle much more. I had lived through the unthinkable: 8 hours of brain surgery which felt like an eternity, 33 rounds of radiation where I had to leave my boy alone fastened to a table while a huge machine radiated his brain potentially damaging him for life and exposing him to secondary cancer and then months of painful hospital rehabilitation away from home and feeling exhausted. 
I had heard about the RACH tournament and the Higgins family. I reached out and called Joanne. I don't really remember much about our conversation, but I knew I had found a kindred spirit who understood exactly what I was going through. I also knew this was a cause I could support whole-heartedly. 
Through the years I have donated and supported the RACH Tournament because I know this is the only way we are going to better survival rates. Brain tumours have the lowest survival rates of all childhood cancers. Many children don't make it. And while I am grateful for my son's survival, I also know there is a cruel and arbitrary line between those who survive and those who don't. Advancements in research and surgery techniques are critical so more children will live to grow up, graduate from high school and maybe, marry; things most parents take for granted.
While I am just one of many people who play a part in the RACH tournament, I was immensely proud last summer when my son had "graduated" from Sick Kids to Princess Margaret for follow-up and there was a plaque honouring Parry Sound's own RACH Tournament. In talking to the staff, they lit up when I said I was from Parry Sound and supported the RACH Tournament. I am honoured and humbled to be a part of it and I know in my heart that we are making a difference and saving lives and giving patients better quality of life with better research and surgery techniques.