Stepping Up With The Kerr Family
From Prince George, BC
17-year-old Jocelyn Kerr never expected her Grade 12 year to look like this. After four months of doctor’s visits, she was diagnosed on New Year’s Eve with Stage 4 Hodgkins Lymphoma and learned that she would need treatment in Vancouver, 781 KM away from her home in Prince George.
At the House, the Kerrs quickly went from newbies to long-term members of a supportive community, helping out other families like theirs. Now, Jocelyn and her mom Carlene have challenged their family and friends to join them for Step Up For Families in the month of April.
In between scholarship applications, homework, and treatments, Jocelyn took some time out to share why she is Stepping Up with her family, and her #1 fundraising tip.
“Our biggest question was, how long do you pack for? We packed for 2 weeks,” says Jocelyn Kerr, thinking back to when she and her family first arrived in Vancouver to begin her treatment for Stage 4 Hodgkins Lymphoma.
After months of doctor’s visits where she and her family knew something wasn’t right, Jocelyn found out that her Grade 12 year would be interrupted by cancer treatment, and the treatment she needed wasn’t available at home. They left their home (where they live on 160 acres) and found themselves in the center of Vancouver, not knowing how long they would need to stay.
Now, they have been at the House for 85 nights, and expect to stay until at least mid-June. They are relieved to have a home away from home at RMH BC, in a place that is welcoming and filled with other families – from teens to little kids – all facing similar struggles.
“We’re connected to all the families,” says Carlene. “We’ve made a lot of great friends, and you become family.” Jocelyn adds, “You eat every breakfast, lunch and dinner together.” And while it can be tough sometimes to talk to friends back home about what they are going through, here at RMH BC, they are surrounded by people who just get it, and know exactly what they mean. “It puts things into perspective – what ‘hard’ truly is,” says Carlene.
In their months at the House, Jocelyn and Carlene have gone from “newbies” still in shock, to an experienced long term family at the House, helping families like themselves when they just arrive.
After Jocelyn’s big sister Mackenzie held a birthday fundraiser in March and raised an incredible $5,000, the family was inspired to give back even more.
They were immediately drawn to Step Up For Families. “We cover a lot of ground at RMH, back and forth to the hospital, up and down the stairs to the kitchen and laundry room. We wanted to see how many steps we get in day,” says Carlene. In one day, Carlene logged 15,000 steps and is currently leading their family team!
For Jocelyn, taking part in Step Up has provided some extra motivation to move as much as she can, and do her physio even when she is tired. And it’s also something she can do along with her grandma, boyfriend, and other family members back home. During treatment, her grandma is the perfect person to compete with and they make sure to compare distances every day.
The Jocelyn’s Journey team set a goal of $750, which will support a family for a 5-night stay at RMH BC.
Their #1 tip for fundraising? “Share your story! When we told our story about why we’re staying here, it motivated people to give right away. If you’re not familiar with RMH, if you don’t know anyone who has stayed here – go Google it! Find out about all the amazing stuff that RMH has in it – like the music room, or a slide in the living room, read the family stories on the website– and share that!
Make sure to share lots on social – and when you start a team, make sure to keep on your team members to make sure they log their distances!”
(“We’re competitive – can you tell?” laughs Carlene.)
Jocelyn is currently working hard to graduate this May, and plans to move to Vancouver in August to begin an ASL Interpreter program at Vancouver Community College.