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Grand surprise community parade cheers on cancer fighter

Mom Terri Lee Davidson and cousin Tasha Foote flank Brenda Tripp McQuaid as she witnesses the surprise parade in her honour to show support for the 34-year-old cancer fighter.

Brenda Tripp McQuaid could barely believe her eyes when she saw the parade of about 175 people carrying balloons and banners being escorted into the Picton Fairgrounds by the Prince Edward County OPP.
Friends, family members and strangers to the 34-year-old cancer fighter had staged a grand surprise to cheer her on in her battle with lung cancer.
The “Doing it The County Way” event Wednesday night was pulled together by Brenda’s friends, using Facebook and old-fashioned telephone calls.
“County people do spectacular things for people we love,” said Brandy-Lee Bradley-Wilkes, one of the organizers. “Brenda has a heart of gold and it was a pleasure to be part of something so huge. Friend Kerri Phillip said to me, ‘have you read her blog?’ so we created this event and we had more than 100 people involved in two days and it grew from there.”
Unbeknownst to Brenda, the group rallied at the Mary Street parking lot downtown Picton and with a police escort and a bus donated by First Student Canada carrying children, participants carried banners, cheered, rang cow bells and clapped as they marched along Elizabeth Street, through the downtown to the fairgrounds where cousin Tasha Foote was keeping Brenda busy.
“I was super surprised,” said Brenda. “I had no idea. I thought there was a fire or an accident or something. I just heard the sirens and I was thinking something’s wrong.”
Overwhelmed with emotion, she added “I so appreciate everybody’s support.”
The crowd gathered around her and, as planned, to sing “Stand By Me” accompanied by Ril Giles on guitar.
“I was so glad to be able to be a part of a wonderful community grassroots event to show support and love to Brenda,” said Giles of the woman she had only known through Facebook until that evening. “I was singing to lead everybody in Stand By Me and I watched people hugging Brenda and the tears were shedding and I had to work past the frog in my throat to keep singing. Such a moving experience.”
The hugs continued and organizers (also including Elisha MacDonald, Michelle Johnson Downey and Jenna Simpson)  presented her with a “Brenda’s Box of Hope” for the many cards and donations to help with expenses throughout her journey.
“Each walker tonight donated $10 or more to participate,” said Simpson. “But there will be several thousands of dollars raised because we did a lot of leg work with door-to-door canvassing, phone calls and an online auction.” Simpson donated proceeds from special sessions at her About Image Photography studio. Funds were also raised during suppers at the Heritage Hall, at yard sales and a penny drive.

Mom Terri Lee Davidson was in on the organizing as well and was over the moon with the response.
“There were people here from Belleville, Peterborough and all over the County. People we don’t even know, including a breast cancer survivor from Belleville who heard about it and wanted to show her support.
“To live in this County makes me so proud and appreciative,” she said. “The phone calls, people willing to take Brenda to any appointments… it’s just numerous, numerous things that everyone in the community has pulled together and supported Brenda and our family and the boys and we just appreciate it greatly.”
Brenda was diagnosed last September with stage four lung cancer in both lungs. The single mother of two boys, ages 14 and 12, started her first round of chemo in November 2011.
The “Please Help Save Our Mom” blog states that because of the chemotherapy, she hasn’t been able to work because of  horrible and extreme side effects of the treatments.
“All was looking up for Brenda this spring as she was pleased to find out her spots were shrinking and resolving after her fourth round of intense chemo. This great feeling didn’t last long as she ended up in Kingston hospital needing two blood transfusions and three platelet transfusions. It was a very close call.
“Not long after this incident she started the maintenance chemo, only to find out in her latest round of tests (bone scans, cat scans and brain scans) that these tumours had resolved themselves and had now grown back to their original size – devastating to the family who felt they had taken one step forward only to take three steps back.”
Her limited options are expensive ones not covered by OHIP and involve travel to hospitals in Kingston and Toronto.
“I just want the opportunity to watch my children grow up, and maybe even have children of their own,” Brenda stated on the blog. “If I could make it to that, I would die a happy woman.”
“My auntie was sooo happy and surprised” said Justine MacDonald, after the parade, on Facebook. “Yes she cried a lot but so did everyone.”

The online auction continues through to Saturday at 5 p.m. Visit: http://www.facebook.com/pages/About-Image-Photography

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  1. TerryLee Davidson says:

    It was an amazing “walk” for Brenda…the outpouring of support was truly unbelievable…Brenda, her boys & our extended family would like to thank everyone involved…from the youngsters who donated their allowances, and gathered pennies, to the numerous businesses that donated items for the on-line auction….we live in an awesome community that cares for its own!! I cannot express, as Brenda’s Mom how this has touched my heart…again….thank you & may God bless you all!!

  2. Amie Frost-Lewis says:

    It was a truly amazing experience and Brenda deserves this recognition and support from our community. Her entire family is exactly what family should be about the unconditional love and support for each other know matter how hard the battle. And we as a community wanted to show her the she has our unconditional love and support. We love you Brenda. Keep fighting you have an army beside you!!!

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