Mom and daughter, both battling cancer, find support from each other

Two months after Violet Robinson found out her 12-year-old daughter has cancer, doctors told her she, too, has the disease. But the two are remaining upbeat and positive.

'We're going to do it together and when we're all done we're going to have a big party'

Kara MacRae and Violet Robinson ride the ferry during one of their trips to Halifax for Kara's chemotherapy treatments. (Submitted by Kara MacRae)

Two months after Violet Robinson found out her 12-year-old daughter has cancer, doctors told her she, too, has the disease.

But the two are remaining upbeat and positive thanks to "amazing" support from family, friends, and their Vernon River, P.E.I., community.

And now, more than ever, each other.

"When I found out I just told her that God didn't want her to do it alone, so we're going to do it together and when we're all done we're going to have a big party," Robinson said.

In March, Robinson's daughter, Kara MacRae, said she had a sore throat. When Robinson went to check, she noticed a tumour on the roof of her mouth.

I kind of get sick but I try and stay happy so that makes it better.— Kara MacRae

Kara underwent surgery at the Prince County Hospital to have the tumour removed. The next day, doctors called to say it was cancer.

"I was devastated," Robinson said. "It took me a few days just to get my head around it. And, of course, all I could do is cry because this is my baby."

Kara undergoes chemotherapy and blood work every week. Every third week she travels to the IWK hospital in Halifax with her mother or father for a special round of chemo that takes a toll on her immune system.

"I kind of get sick but I try and stay happy so that makes it better," Kara said.

Kara has had to give up some of her favourite activities this summer, but she remains positive. (Submitted by Kara MacRae)

Kara is a goalie with the Capital District Cyclones girls hockey team, but last spring had to miss the playoffs. Though she is still allowed to play golf — she shot a 62 over nine holes recently at Belfast — she can't spend much time in the sun.

She had to give up two of her other favourite summer activities — swimming and playing softball.

Through it all, she has been an inspiration to everyone. Even when she lost all but a few strands of her thick, light brown hair, Kara was unfazed, Robinson said.

Telling jokes to doctors

"She's really amazed everybody through this. Even when she's in Halifax getting her big chemo that makes her really sick, she's still telling jokes to the doctors and nurses and finding something good out of the day and I love that about her."

Robinson said she and Kara have been overwhelmed by the support from Islanders. People have organized fundraisers, brought food, provided emotional support — even replenished the fire wood at their campsite in Belfast when they noticed it was low.

Vernon River Consolidated School gave Kara a sweater and hat from the Toronto Maple Leafs, her favourite hockey team. (Submitted by Violet Robinson)

Her school, Vernon River Consolidated, arranged for a sweater and hat from the Toronto Maple Leafs, her favourite hockey team.

"I just really want everybody to know how much we appreciate every single person that touches our lives," Robinson said.

Kara has been responding well to the chemo, Robinson said. If it continues to go well, the treatments should end by October. Kara is already hoping to play hockey this winter.

'Can always find good in every day'

Robinson, meanwhile, begins her own rounds of cancer treatment this week. And if she needs any inspiration, she doesn't have to look further than her own daughter.

"I never see her cranky or upset or whining, it's just always smiling and laughing and she never wants to think about anything that's bad, she can always find good in every day."

That positive attitude is already rubbing off on Robinson, a hairdresser of 32 years, as she thinks about the likelihood of also losing her hair from the chemotherapy.

"I told Kara we'll have to get matching headbands."

More P.E.I. news

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.