Sonia Lafreniere was diagnosed with cervical cancer in October 2010, but she says it was just another hurdle in a long line of health problems.
“After several miscarriages and a life-threatning brain condition, we just had our second child. She was three months old when we heard the word ‘cancer’ for the first time. My family and I decided to take it one day at a time, but, like everyone diagnosed with cancer, my life turned upside down for months. Cancer changed my vision of life, my priorities,” she said.
She became frustrated by losing control of her life, by not meeting her own expectations, by not healing as quickly as she wanted, by not being able to take care of her family and house the way she was used to. Eventually, she came to understand that her body and her mind had to be healthy in order for her to move forward. After reaching remission, and with a Survivor Conference and Retreat Yourself under her belt, Lafreniere wanted to do something to help other young adults affected by cancer in Canada.
“I reached a point where I had the urge to give back. I knew I wanted to do something for YACC. YACC has helped me so much in connecting with others and meeting survivors just like me,” Lafreniere said. “I didn’t necessarily want to shave my head or run, I wanted to do something I love.”
That’s when she heard about an amazing opportunity to marry her drive to help YACC with her love of shopping.
“Early in the spring, I heard of a friend that was putting on a garage sale with an entry fee. The donations were sent to Guatemala. I then put two and two together and decided to do Shop for the Brave!” she said.
Shop for the Brave was two-fold: people donated good-quality used clothing, and others had the opportunity to replenish and enhance their wardrobes! Lafreniere says execution was as easy as making a plan and following it, but she deserves more credit for her work! After discussing the idea with her husband, she contacted YACC to make sure her plans were in line with the organization, invited a manageable number of people through Facebook and her network, and collected donated clothes and shoes. She says the fun really got started when the clothes showed up.
“The first garbage bag I got made me realize that I had gotten myself into a big project, but there was no turning back. Sometimes I can’t believe I actually went through with it. I proved to myself I could have confidence again, but most importantly, that I could still transform an idea into reality,” she said.
On July 9, 2013, approximately 60 people paid $15 to enter Lafreniere’s backyard where they could fill a bag with used and donated clothes. Her son, James, also sold cold lemonade for donations. At the end of the day, the family raised over $1,100!
And they’re not stopping there.
“If YACC still wants the money, I’m on for next year! Shop for the Brave, second edition!”