A 33-year-old former resident of Vanderhoof found a unique way to heal emotionally from her battle with breast cancer and is now traveling around the world researching opportunities for other cancer survivors to find healing. Terri Wingham was born and raised in Vanderhoof and graduated from NVSS in June of 1997. In October of 2009, at the age of 30, she first heard the life altering words “you have cancer”. The eighteen months that followed included four rounds of chemotherapy and three surgeries (including a double mastectomy and the requisite reconstruction). She finally finished treatment in January of 2011 but as she recounts in the blog on her Website, [“afreshchapter.com”] she emerged from the process physically and emotionally exhausted.
Initially reluctant to discuss her disease and treatment regimen, Terri finally concluded that she would only heal emotionally by reaching out to others in need. This included both sharing her story with other cancer patients through her blog as well as planning and fundraising for an international volunteer trip.
In April of 2011, Terri travelled to South Africa for 6 weeks to volunteer with “Cross-Cultural Solutions” at an under-funded daycare in the Townships (slums) outside of Cape Town. As Terri recounts on her Website, this experience of taking care of a beautiful group of 1-3 year olds healed her from cancer in a way she hadn’t expected and became the catalyst for her to build a Charitable Foundation to encourage other cancer survivors to volunteer overseas.
Terri is currently on a six-month, five-continent “Adventure of Hope”, laying the groundwork for the Fresh Chapter Foundation. The purpose of her journey is to identify safe venues available to survivors who, like her, would like to volunteer overseas as a way of writing a fresh chapter in their post cancer stories. Terri is reviewing 7 international volunteer organizations with a view to forming long-term partnerships with only those organizations that have ethical volunteer practices, extensive in-country support and well established safety records. On the completion of her journey she will create a web resource and partner with cancer support organizations across North America as a way of spreading the word about this unique option for recovery.
In addition to South Africa, Terri has volunteered in Vietnam, India, and Rwanda and is scheduled to volunteer in Tanzania, Spain, Peru, and Costa Rica before her journey ends in late June of this year. Through her ongoing fundraising efforts, Terri has so far collected 62% of her goal of $34,000.00 and needs another $12,680.00 to fund the rest of the trip. So far she has enjoyed the financial support of private donors, corporate sponsors and volunteer partners. Terri would now love her hometown and area to get behind her in an effort to help her to complete this project. More extensive information on her journey, on the Fresh Chapter Foundation and on her fund raising efforts is available at “afreshchapter.com”. A special account has been set up at the Vanderhoof branch of Integris Credit Union for those who would like to make a financial contribution.
Terri’s dream for the Fresh Chapter Foundation is to help thousands of cancer survivors select, fundraise, and prepare for their own international volunteer trips. As more survivors join her on the road, she hopes to start a movement of adventure after cancer, of service as a way of healing, of cultural exchange and understanding, and most importantly, of helping survivors walk through their fear and write new stories for the future.