Meet Jessica Wu.  Her mother Joyce lost her battle with colorectal cancer on October 7, 2007, at the age of only 49 years old.  This Saturday, Jessica will continue her tradition of raising funds for the CCAC and spreading awareness in her community,  all in honour of her incredible mother.

As Mother’s Day 2011 approaches this Sunday, have you thought about how you will be celebrating and thanking your Mom?

I have. Although, my celebration may be a little different from most. You see, I lost my mother, Joyce L. Wu, to Colorectal Cancer in October, 2007. Mom was only 49 years old, and I was 24. We were both ‘too young’ to be experiencing this type of a farewell.

Mom wasn’t someone who should’ve gotten cancer, I remembered people saying. She was the Captain of her volleyball team in school, exercised regularly, kept a very healthy diet and chose fresh food, and even took up Tai Chi weekly. There was no family history we could find that hinted my Mom may have been a candidate for cancer. At age 46, though, Mom told us the news: the lump our family doctor found was malignant … and she had Colorectal Cancer. She was told that screening for Colorectal Cancer was not performed until people are 50 years old in Ontario. Mom battled Colorectal Cancer bravely for the next three years, and although it rendered her completely motionless from her neck downwards and riddled her body with relentless pain, Mom did not want to be admitted to Palliative Care until 4 days before she passed. Mom was always a fighter and a true warrior.

Nearly four years have passed, and each year, I have the opportunity of continuing to celebrate Mother’s Day along with everyone else, even though Mom is no longer with us. After emptying my savings account to buy a small townhouse after Mom’s passing, I stumbled upon an Annual Community Garage Sale event held by my townhouse corporation around Mother’s Day each year, in which all 548 townhouse units can participate. It’s a MASSIVE and very convenient way to sell, swap and find items. Ideas flowed and I began asking my co-workers, friends, family, and even my French and Piano students to donate any items they no longer needed to me for the Garage Sale, especially since Spring Cleaning was always around the corner. I housed all the donated items – from bikes to treadmills, sandboxes for kids to vacuum cleaners – in my garage and spare bedroom. On the morning of the Garage Sale, my brother and Dad helped to set everything up.

For the past three years, our family has continued this tradition to celebrate and remember Mom for Mother’s Day. Every year during the Annual Community Garage Sale, we ask around for donations of items (or proceeds) and donate every single penny from our Garage Sale to the Colorectal Cancer Association of Canada (CCAC) in loving memory of Mom. The CCAC graciously sends me posters, wallet inserts, banners, and/or brochures annually for this event so that my brother and Dad can pass these out to all passer-bys and raise awareness for Colorectal Cancer. Given Mom’s healthy lifestyle, she wasn’t someone who “should’ve” gotten cancer, but she did. She wasn’t supposed to get screened for Colorectal Cancer until age 50, but she didn’t make it to 50. My family recognizes the importance of spreading the word about Colorectal Cancer to anyone and everyone, regardless of their age. The first year, we raised $320.95 in 4 short hours from our Garage Sale alone and my company matched this donation amount 100% – we wrote a cheque to the CCAC for a total of $642!

This year is no different for us as we celebrate Mother’s Day. Our Annual Community Garage Sale takes place Saturday, May 14th from 8AM – 1PM (rain or shine) for all 548 townhouse units, of which mine is but one. The CCAC brochures, wallet inserts and posters are ready to go. We would love to have more donations of items (items that aren’t sold are driven across the street and we give them all to Goodwill the same afternoon) and/or financial donations that morning, too. So please do stop by to support and encourage us, or make a donation to the CCAC for us! You can find our address on CCAC’s calendar of events:

It is our dream that our humble Garage Sale will continue not only annually, but that it will become a city-wide event one day where families of those who have been affected from Colorectal Cancer will gather to not only remember, but truly celebrate our loved ones who so courageously battle this disease by raising awareness and funds for the Colorectal Cancer Association to further their mission and fund research we all so desperately need.

From the Wu Family, we wish you all a Happy Mother’s Day – truly, a day to celebrate all Moms, no matter where our Moms are.

– Jessica, Grant & Joseph Wu