Jennifer Mullings and her husband brought their children from Jamaica to Canada 21 years ago for better opportunities and she – like most immigrants – made sacrifices to ensure the family succeeded in their new homeland.
Satisfied she had successfully achieved that task, Mullings returned to the classroom in 2007 to fulfill a personal goal of earning a nursing degree. Sadly, she did not complete her objective.
After experiencing severe back pain and swelling in her neck, the Ryerson student and Toronto Western Hospital registered nurse was diagnosed with lymphoma in January 2009.
Mullings succumbed to the disease, a cancer in the immune system’s lymphatic cells, nine months after detection. She was just 54.
To perpetuate her memory, family friend Cleve DeSouza participated in last year’s Enbridge Ride to Conquer Cancer that raises funds for The Campbell Family Institute at Princess Margaret Hospital which is one of the top cancer research centres in the world.
He generated close to $3,500 in the 110-kilometre ride from Toronto to Niagara Falls and the family raised another $1,700 from a fun event staged last April.
“About 100 family members and friends attended the first event in 2010 in which we played games and took part in other fun activities for a worthy cause,” said daughter April Mullings. “Our mother was a strong woman who was very much involved in her church and very active until she fell ill. It was a shock for us when she was diagnosed and even more shocking how quickly she left us.
“This was the first time that our immediate family was impacted by cancer and we felt it was important that we find a way to contribute to cancer research.”
The Mullings family was again rocked by bad news last year when the MC at their family event was diagnosed with stomach cancer last July.
“This is someone who is close to us and one who was full of life before he became ill,” said Mullings who has been a Caribbean Dance Theatre member since 1998. “Now, he’s in the fight of his life.”
DeSouza is riding again in this June’s fundraiser and the Mullings family is putting the finishing touches on preparations for their second annual fun event on Saturday, April 30 at St. Thomas the Apostle Catholic Church, 14 Highgate Dr. in Markham. The event runs from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m.
The price of admission is $10 and children under 12 are free.
“We are going to play dominoes, hula hoops and other sports again this year and we have added a video game component and fantastic prizes,” said Mullings, the second of three children. “Again, all the money we raise will go to Princess Margaret Hospital.”