Cambridge girl Katie Herron, who lost a long battle with cancer, will be among the children's stories honoured when the Cambridge city sign lights up gold on Aug. 31 for Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.
Mother of Cambridge girl Katie Herron aims to bring families together with lighting of city sign
News Aug 08, 2018 by Lisa Rutledge Cambridge Times
Katie Herron, who died of cancer after a seven-year fight, cuddles with mother Anne Hodgkinson. - Anne Hodgkinson/Photo,Anne Hodgkinson/Photo Cambridge girl Katie Herron, who lost a long battle with cancer, will be among the children's stories honoured when the Cambridge city sign lights up gold on Aug. 31 for Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. - Anne Hodgkinson/Photo,Anne Hodgkinson/Photo
The mother of a Cambridge girl whose courageous battle with cancer was championed by a community is hoping to light the way of hope for families with children impacted by the deadly disease.
Anne Hodgkinson, whose daughter Katie Herron fought acute lymphoblastic leukemia over a seven-year period —beating back the disease several times thanks to groundbreaking therapies —is finally finding a small sense of healing and peace by supporting other families.
An avid volunteer with Childhood Cancer Canada, Hodgkinson has given much of her time since Katie's death to helping organize donation drives for children fighting cancer, even collecting toys for kids at Christmas.
"One of the things that has helped me greatly is my advocacy work for Childhood Cancer," explained Hodgkinson. "Katie Star truly lives on with everything I do."
The Cambridge girl, affectionately dubbed "Katie Star" by her family and friends, would have loved her latest project, she said.
Hodgkinson proposed the City of Cambridge turn its iconic city sign to gold for the week of Aug. 31 to Sept. 7 to honour Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, which is symbolized by the colour gold.
Dubbed Glow Gold, the weeklong sign lighting campaign will kick off on Aug. 31 at civic square with a public ceremony for those wanting to support families affected by childhood cancer.
The lighting launch will be preceded by a private rally for families impacted by childhood cancer.
Hodgkinson knows in her heart her daughter would have been touched deeply to see the Cambridge sign glow gold.
"She didn't know about the sign, but she loved the sign in Toronto," she said, recalling the countless months spent in Toronto-area hospitals for procedures and therapy.
"We used to go to the window and watch the CN Tower be illuminated. If it was changing colours, we knew that was just a normal night, but if it stayed one colour, then we were off to Google to find out what does that colour mean, who does it represent."
Hodgkinson, who often asked her daughter what she would like her legacy to be, knows well how precious each moment with a loved one can be.
It's a fact she is repeatedly reminded about, even since approaching the city last February about lighting the sign gold.
That's because families who have bonded for support under the banner of the local Go Gold Cambridge organization have recently seen cancer end several children's lives too soon.
"That's four kids we've lost in the last two years," said Hodgkinson.
Planning for the Glow Gold event hasn't been easy for the Cambridge woman, but she believes it is part of an important healing process.
Strongly feeling her daughter is ever present in little signs here and there, Hodgkinson believes small things like lighting up a sign can inspire hope and purpose.
"It's very hard not having her here, that's never going to disappear," she said. "What it does give me is a boost to see the childhood cancer community here coming together and leaning on each other.
"Things like this, it's not about fundraising or highlighting one family in particular. It's all of us. All of our journeys are just as challenging, some may be shorter, some may be longer. So, when I see that, it's a little piece of Katie."
Families coping with childhood cancer are invited to attend the private rally before the official lighting of the city sign and can receive details by emailing Hodgkinson by email at email@example.com.
Lisa Rutledge is a Reporter/Photographer for the Cambridge Times.