Nfld. & Labrador

Big Mary sales providing a big help for teen cancer patient

Sandwiches sold at a Paradise Mary Brown's are helping Makayla Puddicombe, 15, and her family as she is treated for a rare and aggressive cancer.

Makayla Puddicombe undergoing treatment in Toronto.

Big Mary fundraiser

Here and Now

6 years ago
2:14
Teen cancer patient Makayla Puddicombe got a big boost from a fundraiser at a Mary Browns in St. John's Wednesday 2:14

One Mary Brown's restaurant in the metro St. John's area is using its famous chicken to help the family of a teenager living with cancer, with supporters turning out in such numbers that some waited an hour in line to be served. 

The Paradise location of the chicken restaurant is supporting a fundraiser for Makayla Puddicombe, who is currently receiving treatment in Toronto for a rare and aggressive brain tumour.

Wednesday is her and her twin sister Mackenzie's 15th birthday.

15-year-old Makayla Puddicombe is currently undergoing treatment for a rare brain tumour at SickKids in Toronto. (Submitted by Lisa Harris)

"It's very hard to have to see them go through this, so as a family member, you want to do as much as you can," said Lisa Harris, a cousin who organized the fundraiser with Mary Brown's in Paradise to help with medical and travel costs. 

"This is why we've reached out in hosting this event today." 

Puddicombe was first diagnosed in June 2014, and has already undergone three brain surgeries and extensive radiation treatments.

This is the second time she has had to travel to Toronto with her family for an extended period, in addition to monthly visits to SickKids — Toronto's Hospital for Sick Children — placing a financial burden on the family.

Harris said she likes to think of Puddicombe as a little sister.

Organizer Lisa Harris at Mary Brown's during the fundraiser for her cousin Makayla Puddicombe on Wednesday. (Meghan McCabe/CBC)

All proceeds from Big Mary sales on Wednesday will be going to Makayla and her family. Supporters have also organized a GoFundMe page called Makayla's Journey.

Harris said the support has been overwhelming, and has come from all across the country.

Medications not covered by provincial insurance

The Puddicombe family also found out Wednesday that two medications Makayla needs, dabrafenib and trametinib, will not be covered by MCP insurance because they are part of a clinical trial. 

Michelle Puddicombe, Makayla's mother, said that the travel, treatments, and financial stresses have taken their toll.

She thinks this is the best idea ever- Michelle Puddicombe

"No one really understand that even the small expenses right now are hard, but we're getting through it, we're pushing through it as best we can," she said. 

"This next obstacle is going to be a challenge, but hopefully with the support of people, and when I get back and I can talk to the government and see what can happen, maybe there will be some good news [coming] from it."

Puddicombe doesn't yet know how much her daughter's medications will cost, but she said that similar medications cost as much as $10,000 for a six-week run. 

She said her daughter thinks the fundraising efforts at home are fantastic, however. 

"[Makayla] thinks it's absolutely amazing, considering her first surgery, as soon as she came out of it, less than 30 minutes later, she was asking for Mary Brown's," she said.

"She thinks this is the best idea ever."

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