A Greater Victoria student percussion group is helping support one of their alumni after a Sooke family’s lives changed drastically last month.
Allen and Lynn Hamilton said their 22-year-old daughter Shae wasn’t feeling well for a couple of days before she went to Victoria General Hospital on Feb. 17. Within a couple hours of running blood tests, the hospital diagnosed Shae with leukemia and she was quickly transported to Vancouver that night.
A bone marrow biopsy taken the next day found Shae has acute promyelocytic leukemia and she started chemo treatments right away.
“She’s responded well to treatment, obviously with the chemo it’s taken the wind out of her sails,” Allen said.
Doctors told the parents that Shae has likely only had the cancer for a couple weeks.
“It’s not one that hides for a while,” Lynn said. “We caught it probably right away.”
“It’s going to be a long road to recovery for her,” Allen said. “They said it’s a very high success rate, but as the doctors say, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t go without complications along the way.”
The treatments Shae needs are only offered in Vancouver. Those treatments will last around nine months, so Lynn has a taken a leave of absence from her job so she can stay with Shae.
That’s why the Organized Khaos Percussion Ensemble, a non-profit musical group for students in Grades 6 to 12, donated $2,500 to the Hamiltons to help cover the costs of staying with, and visiting Shae.
The percussion group performs at international and local festivals — during non-pandemic times — but their main goal is to raise funds for leukemia causes.
Organized Khaos’ annual We Will Beat It fundraising concert has raised over $200,000 for local children and families since 2000. Last year’s event has helped support 18 Vancouver Island families.
“We’ve helped many families in this area,” said Duey Wright, the group’s director.
Wright and Jen Fiorin, Organized Khaos’ assistant director, taught Shae when she was in the Program for Academic and Creative Enrichment (PACE), where she performed for 13 years.
“We know Shae and we know how great of a kid she is and we know how great of a family they are,” Fiorin said. “This is going to be a huge trouble for them and this is how we can help.”
Wright called Shae PACE’s first “rebel,” whose confidence and flair always shined bright during her time and performances with the program.
Fiorin said it’s an honour to help the Hamiltons.
“We’re here for anything that they need and it’s special to be able to give back to someone that is close in that way,” she said.
“It’s huge,” said Allen, reacting to the donation. “We’ve had so much support, it’s crazy.”