Manitoba

18-year-old Winnipeg woman with terminal cancer casts 1st vote, urges others to do the same

When 18-year-old Maddison Yetman’s first chance to vote rolled around with the upcoming federal election, she wasn’t going to let anything get in her way — not even a sudden, terminal cancer diagnosis.

‘If I can find the time to vote, you can find the time to vote,’ says Maddison Yetman

On Tuesday morning, 18-year old Maddison Yetman posted a video of herself on Twitter, challenging people to vote in the Oct. 21 federal election. (Maddison Yetman/Twitter)

When 18-year-old Maddison Yetman's first chance to vote rolled around with the upcoming federal election, she wasn't going to let anything get in her way — not even a sudden, terminal cancer diagnosis.

And after casting her ballot on Saturday, Yetman wanted to take it one step further and urge other people to get out and vote. On Tuesday morning, she posted a video on Twitter describing how, despite being bedridden and having limited time to live, she still managed to get it done.

"If I can find the time to vote, you can find the time to vote," Yetman says in the video before flipping to a sign that reads "#WhatsYourExcuse."

As of 8:30 p.m. Tuesday, the video had more than 150,000 views on Twitter and had been retweeted more than 2,300 times.

18-year-old Maddison Yetman’s first chance to vote rolled around with the upcoming federal election, she wasn’t going to let anything get in her way — not even a sudden, terminal cancer diagnosis. 0:39

A sudden diagnosis

Yetman's uncle, Brent Williamson, said the change in his usually healthy niece was abrupt.

Yetman noticed strange bruises on her legs while the family had brunch together and within days, they learned something was seriously wrong. First, Yetman was diagnosed with leukemia — but soon, it became clear she had an advanced form of sarcoma that had already spread into her blood and bone marrow.

"It was much more serious than they thought," said Williamson.

Shortly after that, they found out the disease was incurable, and because it had progressed so far, any treatment would only extend her life for a short bit of time.

"I think for all of us, you're just shocked at how fast it came," said Williamson. "Nobody expects an 18-year-old to go into the hospital with aches and pains and get a diagnosis that they'll be dead in a matter of days to weeks."

He said his niece lived a relatively normal life until the diagnosis, and even went hiking and swimming in the weeks before.

But when they realized what the prognosis was, Williamson said his politically active niece knew she wanted to do something with her short time left that would make an impact.

"She really has some strong political views, and she really wanted to vote. It was very important to her that she got a chance to vote," he said.

A national impact

It was the start of a conversation that led to a video that would be shared across the country.

On Tuesday afternoon, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh shared it on Twitter.

"I'm speechless. This is truly powerful, Maddison — thank you for your courage in the face of adversity," Singh wrote. "Please watch Maddison's video, and please hear the call to action. Your voice, like Maddison's, deserves to be heard."

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau also shared the tweet, writing, "Thank you for inspiring Canadians, and reminding us how precious a vote is."

The video is continuing to gain traction online, with an additional 8,000 views on Facebook as of 8:30 p.m. Tuesday.

"I think it's resonating with people that, here's a kid whose time can be measured in minutes or hours, and she took minutes out of there to vote. And there's no excuse for everybody else who has a lot more time to not get out and vote," he said. 

"Medically, there's nothing that we can do for Maddison — but we can make her realize that her short time here really had an impact."

With files from Eleanor Coopsammy

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