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Tribute to Carley

Carley was such a kind, joyful and charismatic person. It’s simply impossible for me to do justice to Carley in just a few words or to tell you all of the things that made me so proud to be her dad.

Carley led a very full and active life.  Before cancer came into her life, Carley’s days were jam-packed with sports practices, friends, school events, and volunteering. She was a high school track star, a snowboarder; she rode horses and competed in figure skating.

And, she loved to sing. From an early age, she fell in love with music and became an accomplished singer-songwriter. You may have seen some of her many YouTube performances.

All that was before cancer came into her life in February 2013 at the age of 17.

She was having trouble breathing.  We thought she had developed asthma.  A visit to an ear, nose and throat specialists did not prepare us for the doctor’s shocking discovery.


Her Cancer Diagnosis 

She was diagnosed with an extremely rare case of clear cell sarcoma of the trachea.  She had to be immediately admitted for an emergency tracheotomy to help open her airway.  The news got worse after that – she was only the second recorded case of her form of cancer.  This began a 9 month blur of treatments – surgery, chemotherapy and radiation.

Through it all, Carley remained our rock of hope.  I still don’t know how she did it all. She blogged almost daily, continued performing and she began fundraising for The Princess Margaret to help conquer cancer.

In June of 2013, she graduated from high school.  By early October we received the wonderful news that she was in remission.  We were told that if she remained in remission for 12 months, the odds increased that the cancer was less likely to reoccur.

For the next 10 months, Carley made the most of the new life she had been given. She started every day with an off-ice workout, and then did an on-ice workout and followed this up with volunteer work in the afternoon.

In August of 2014, we received the devastating news that her cancer had returned, but this time it was clear-cell sarcoma in her lungs.  After so much progress, it was extremely hard to get this news, but Carley remained determined.

In September, she went off to Queen’s University while undergoing oral chemotherapy.  Unfortunately, her education had to take a back seat when she had to undergo more radiation treatments.  Despite more radiation treatments, cancer spread to her left arm.

Despite her heroic efforts, we could see that Carley would soon be leaving us.  On March 31, 2015, cancer took Carley from us.

The agony of that moment is something that I will never forget. Carley was just 19 years old when she died.

As parents, her mother May and I will never know the heights our happy, talented, and determined daughter would have climbed. And we’ll never have those special moments that we longed to celebrate with Carley — university graduation, moving into her own apartment, and maybe marriage and children.

Yet Carley’s relentless optimism on her cancer journey was an inspiration to us — and to so many others. She held on to hope with all of her strength. And not just for herself, but for everyone touched by this disease.

Please give hope to patients like Carley by dedicating your dove and donate to Doves of Hope today.

I know first-hand the difference your support makes.


When Carley Found Her Dove

I remember Carley and I were walking through the atrium at Princess Margaret Cancer Centre on the way to one of her many radiation treatments.

She grabbed my arm and said, “Hey, dad, I found my dove!”

I still get goose bumps when I think about that day. Amazingly, Carley had spotted — among 10,000 paper doves in the atrium — the very one that was lovingly dedicated in her name that year.

It was a special moment for her, and for me, as we felt the power of hope shared by so many people.


Help Make a Difference Today

Together, we can make a dramatic difference for thousands of daughters and sons, moms and dads, friends and colleagues who are touched by cancer. Loved ones who are clinging to this hope today. You can help realize that promise by supporting The Princess Margaret.

Carley dreamed of doing great things with her life. Please help make her dream come true by dedicating your dove and donating today.

Thank you for supporting the Doves of Hope campaign.

Mark Allison
Carley’s Dad

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