Cheers, laughter and tears filled the parking lot of Matthew McNair secondary as students held a drive-by parade for one of their own who is battling stage 4 cancer.
Jenny Bitter, a Grade 12 student at McNair, entered the school’s parking lot in a truck decorated with balloons, welcomed by fellow classmates on Sunday morning with “stay strong” posters, balloons and origami cranes they had made.
The parade, organized by the school’s Grade 11 and 12 leadership class, is part of the class’ group project to showcase the themes of care and community, according to Natasha Blair, who teaches the class.
And what better way is there than to show the themes in a parade for a classmate they are close with.
“(The students) believe that the purpose of this activity is to demonstrate the power of caring and that everyone has a story,” said Blair, adding that they want to remind the community that many people “are going through difficult times” and any act, big or small, can leave a positive impact.
“We are encouraging everyone to remember this, especially as we navigate through this pandemic.”
She added that the class is hoping to turn this project into a city-wide initiative to help care homes and hospitals with things that need to be done, while challenging other schools to do the same.
In September 2020, Jenny, 18, was diagnosed with a brain tumor called WHO Grade 4 Midline Glioma H3K27 Mutant. This type of tumor, for example, affects an individual’s movement, ability to swallow and breath, and is deemed an extremely aggressive form of cancer.
Jenny and her mom, Anita Bitter, recalled breaking down in the doctor’s office when the medical reports showed Jenny had stage 4 cancer.
“(The doctors) don’t know how long I will be here, and I remember something broke inside me and I cried,” said Jenny.
“I want to tell everyone to stay positive and not give up. Keep fighting because you can do it.
“I also want to say thank you to my classmates and everyone for everything.”
While Jenny has undergone surgery to remove the tumor and is going through chemotherapy, “every day is considered a risk,” according to Anita.
“It’s scary every day and night because the doctor said this type of cancer is a genetic problem so there is no medication or anything for it,” said Anita.
“Every day she is fighting and we don’t know how many days she has left, so when the school told us her classmates are holding a parade for her (Jenny) and I were just so emotional.”
Jenny‘s biggest dream is to become an actress, but if it doesn’t work out she will be an ELL teacher to help kids with English and be a wonderful mother.