Alumni Profile: Sarah Cook '10
Philanthropist, TV and Film
The rigours of LCC’s grade 12 program were not the only challenges that Sarah Cook faced during the one year she spent at the school. Just before arriving at LCC to pursue the Pre-University program, Ms. Cook was diagnosed for the second time with a rare form of cancer called Ewing’s sarcoma.
Originally diagnosed at the age of eight, Ms. Cook’s endurance and resilience had already been tested, having been subjected to multiple surgeries and a year of chemotherapy and radiation treatment. Still, even at that young age, and while fighting her own battle with cancer, Ms. Cook’s thoughts turned to other children experiencing the same trials. She wanted to help them.
What started as a wish to buy new pillows for the children on her hospital floor exploded into what is now Sarah’s Fund of the Cedars Cancer Foundation, a charitable organization that has raised over $8 million for pediatric hematology/oncology at the Montreal Children’s Hospital.
Through a series of annual fundraising events, Sarah’s Fund has supported the development of various programs at the hospital, including art, pet, and music therapy, sponsored equipment purchases and the new We Should Talk/Parlons-en campaign, and provided financial assistance to families of cancer patients in need, among many other initiatives. In addition, Ms. Cook’s Fund financed a complete renovation of the hospital floor.
“I understood how hard it is to go through cancer. I wanted to make it a little easier for other children in the same situation and help improve their quality of life,” Ms. Cook says.
The hub of the in-patient pediatric hematology/oncology division at the hospital has since been renamed Sarah’s Floor to acknowledge the significant contributions that she and her supporters have made.
Ms. Cook received the Governor General’s Caring Canadian Award in October 2015. She is humbled by the recognition and accolades that have been heaped upon her, and is quick to point out that none of this could have been accomplished without her parents, family and friends.
“When I received the Governor General’s award, my parents really should have been up there with me, because they are just as deserving,” she says. “ I am truly blessed with great friends and families. We may have planted the seed but it took the Montreal community to make it grow.”
Despite the difficulties that Ms. Cook endured during her time at LCC, she still says that it had a significant impact on her personal and professional development.
“Everyone was so accommodating and supportive,” Ms. Cook says of the LCC faculty, staff and students. “The teachers knew what my capabilities were and would push me, so that I could get where I needed to be and go off to university the following year. And students would always offer me their notes if I missed a class.”
She appreciated not having to choose between her science and arts classes and to be able to explore both areas. Ultimately, the arts classes guided her in determining her career path, and she is currently working in Toronto in the TV and film industry.
The LCC students were also very supportive of Sarah’s Fund, demonstrating acts of generosity which will stay with her always. “They didn’t really know me, but they rallied behind me and came to the fundraising events.” Referring to the LCC slogan, Non Nobis Solum, she adds, “LCC is about giving back and thinking of others.”
Above all, Ms. Cook’s experiences inspired her to go after her dreams. “Even though I was sick and life threw me a few curve balls, including a third recurrence, I learned never to give up and that I could do whatever I wanted. After you’ve beaten cancer three times, there’s nothing you can’t do.”