Eleven-year-old Alexa Fitzwilliam is just like any other kid her age; she’s in Grade 5, she loves playing soccer and she spends a lot of time with friends. But unlike her peers, Alexa was diagnosed with osteo-sarcoma, a type of bone cancer, when she was only nine years old.
“I was going to my annual checkup and everything was going well and when I was leaving, I asked the doctor about a bump on my left wrist,” said Alexa. “I thought it was a bruise. My doctor said it was probably a sprain but that we’d get an x-ray done…Then they told me I might have cancer, leukemia or a tumor. I couldn’t think: I was petrified.”
The diagnosis was cancer and Alexa spent 11 weeks in chemotherapy, followed by a complex 23-hour surgery in which they took the bone out of her wrist and replaced it with bone from her right leg. Her ordeal didn’t end there, she spent 20 more weeks completing her chemotherapy treatments which sometimes involved staying at the hospital for two or four days.
“I was sick a lot. When I had to stay at the hospital for two or four days, usually it was because I was too sick to go home,” she said. “I was very lucky because my teacher in my class came to my house to tutor me and so I was able to pass and now I am in Grade 5.”
Alexa slowly healed from her surgery and recovered from the treatment. Now, she is back to playing inter-city soccer — playing on the second team instead of the first just to err on the side of caution. Now, she has taken on the mission to help other children who have dealt with cancer. She has been named the official spokesperson for the Montreal Children’s Hospital’s 20th edition of Pedal for Kids, the most important annual fundraiser for the hospital.
“The president knew us for a long time and he heard about what happened to me so he asked me if I wanted to be the spokesperson,” Alexa said. “I said ‘of course!’”
When you visit the Pedal for Kids website (www.pedalez.com), Alexa’s story is front page.
“Alexa was once nicknamed ‘The Diesel’ by her soccer team because she was known as a player that gave her all to the game,” it is written on the site. “During her year-long battle to overcome cancer, she showed her friends and family that she is a fighter both on and off the field. Strong-willed and full of big plans for the future, Alexa resolved, before even receiving the news that her cancer was in remission, to do something to make a difference for other sick kids.”
As of print time, Alexa’s page had received $7,085 worth of donations with many people choosing to leave comments. She has surpassed her goal to receive $7,000 of donations.
“Alexa, we are in awe of your strength, determination and positive attitude. You are a true inspiration and role model for so many,” wrote the Ioanidis family.
Tanya Nouwens wrote “You are one brave and strong girl! And you've touched the hearts of many, many people.”
Pedal for Kids is a week-long event which involves teams of 30 riding on a ‘mighty bike’ through the streets of downtown Montreal. Each participant raises funds. Over the years, more than $8 million has been raised. This year, the event will take place in the week of June 13. Visit the site for more information and to donate to Alexa’s page, visit http://www.pedalez.com/e/partpages.asp?id=2219.