At the age of 10, Maeve Brennagh-Mackie has already retired – or at least taken a break – from her first career: helping out her dad, Kyle Mackie, manager, teaching and learning technologies, in Open Learning and Educational Support, with his Saturday morning radio show on CFRU. Maeve and her father, along with her younger brother, Leo, broadcast the show featuring music and stories for about five years and collected an enthusiastic audience.
Last summer, though, Maeve began to have frequent bouts of headaches and nausea. “She’d be sick, then fine for awhile, then sick again,” says Mackie. “But in late August it really ramped up.”
On the Thursday before the Labour Day weekend, her mother took Maeve to Guelph General Hospital, where an MRI was done. “I was called at work and told that they had found ‘something,’” says Mackie. “I ran home, and we went by ambulance to McMaster.”
Doctors at McMaster Children’s Hospital diagnosed a brain tumour, and within hours of arriving there, Maeve was in an operating room.
Mackie says he was “shaken up. I don’t think reality sank in until much later.”
The good news is that Maeve’s tumour was determined to be benign and was completely removed. There is a small possibility that it might grow back, but at this point she is healthy and shows no signs of any ongoing problem. “She’s healthy, happy, bright and lovely,” says Mackie.
She also wants to give back. “Maeve is very grateful for the care she got, and she really wants to help others,” Mackie says.
During their time at the hospital and when they’ve returned for follow-up visits, Maeve noticed that some other children don’t have outcomes as positive and hopeful as hers. Mackie, too, recognizes that his family has been very fortunate in getting a quick diagnosis and successful treatment.
They’ve opted to raise funds for the Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada by joining the Guelph Spring Sprint May 5 and running five kilometres in the Arboretum. “We’ve signed up the whole family as a team,” says Mackie. That includes Mackie and his wife, Maeve and Leo, Mackie’s parents and assorted aunts, uncles and friends.
Money raised will go to fund research on brain tumours, the technology needed to provide better imaging within the brain, education for brain surgeons and pathologists, and support for families dealing with these issues. Since 27 Canadians are diagnosed with a brain tumour each day, that’s a lot of people needing support. Mackie says he was helped through these past months by the encouragement and assistance of his family and friends, adding, “Not everyone who has to deal with this has that kind of support. That’s one reason I think the foundation is important.”
Anyone interested in contributing can go to teambrenkie.org and donate online. “You can donate to them, to me or to Maeve,” says Mackie. “It all goes to the same good cause.”