History

The Candlelighters Association of Newfoundland and Labrador is a volunteer charitable organization governed by a volunteer board of directors, dedicated to improving the quality of life for children with cancer and their families since 1982.

The Candlelighters Association of Newfoundland and Labrador was formed in 1982 to meet the emotional needs of parents whose child was diagnosed with leukemia. In November 1981, Dr. S.K. Ali, who was at that time, Hematologist-Oncologist at the Hospital, gathered a small group of parents together at the Janeway Child Health Centre. The Candlelighters first project was to launch a financial campaign to help raise funds to purchase a well-needed electron microscope to help in the diagnosis of childhood leukemia. The result of this campaign was a fund which was then used to purchase other needed hospital equipment used primarily in the detection of childhood cancer. Within the year it was determined that all parents of children diagnosed with any form of cancer experience the same feelings of devastation, isolation and despair. It was then decided to broaden the scope of support to include families of children diagnosed with any type of cancer (i.e. bone cancer, brain tumours, soft tissue tumours, leukemia, etc.).

The primary aim of The Candlelighters Association of Newfoundland and Labrador is to be a support group whose goal is to provide the families of children diagnosed with cancer with information, emotional support and unique understanding. In keeping with that aim, Candlelighters provides emotional, peer support for our families as the need is identified – at diagnosis, before surgery, during hospitalization, upon relapse, in times of crisis, as death approaches, during bereavement; as well as when a child finishes their program of treatment and continue to progress with a normal life. Our parents care in the unique way only parents of other child cancer patients can.

Candlelighters have grown over the years from the first fourteen parents to approximately 300 families. Each year there are new diagnoses and, unfortunately some children succumb to the disease. Cancer is the number one disease killing children from age six months through to young adulthood. It is the leading cause of non-accidental death in children.