19-year-old cancer survivor celebrated for giving back

Prince Albert Mayor Greg Dionne presents 19-year old Chelsea Mitchell with the 2020 Terry Fox Award. MItchell is a cancer survivor who gives back through the Small but Mighty Group, Silver for Gold, Terry Fox Run and Relay for Life fundraisers./Peter Lozinski

Chelsea Mitchell has been through a lot for someone who’s just 19 years old.
Mitchell was diagnosed with A.L.L. (Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia) in July 2013 at the age of 12.
She received three rounds of chemotherapy over eight months. Her body didn’t respond well so she had to receive a peripheral blood stem transplant – requiring her whole family to move to Calgary for four months.
She went through seven days of intense chemotherapy and full body radiation before receiving the transplant.
While she’s been cancer free since June 2014, Mitchell hasn’t stopped fighting. She still has challenges with long-term effects of chemotherapy and radiation and is considered medically vulnerable – meaning she must be extra cautious to protect against the virus that causes COVID-19.
Mitchell kept a positive attitude throughout her illness, and now fundraises for the Small but Mighty Group, the Terry Fox Run and Relay for Life. As a part of Saskatoon’s Small but Might Group, Chelsea and her mom Shelly draw on their own experience to meet, give advice and encourage other families who have children diagnosed with cancer.
Chelsea collects pop tabs to raise money for childhood cancers and remains an advocate for improved treatment and care for young cancer patients.
Her fighting spirit and dedication to giving back led the city to award Chelsea with the 2020 Terry Fox Award and Citation.
The award was established by the city in 1981 to help remember Terry Fox’s heroic achievement while acknowledging a local recipient with similar ideals.
Chelsea is the 39th recipient of the award.
“I think it’s huge. She’s been through so much. To win an award like this is something she will remember forever,” Shelly said.
“She is a great kid and now that she’s been through all she’s been through she gives back. “
Shelly said the community came through for their community when Chelsea was sick, with schools, their workplaces, friends and family and others from the local community doing whatever they could to help out. Both of Chelsea’s parents were able to take a year off, and fundraising meant the whole family could spend four months in Calgary.
The shirts they designed and printed made it all the way to Europe and Australia, the US and all across Canada.
“The support here has been unbelievable,” said Chelsea’s dad, Sheldon. “If we can give back to anyone we can, we try.”
Mayor Greg Dionne called Chelsea an inspiration.
“Here’s a young girl who’s positive, she has her life planned. She’s going to struggle on. She still has lots of healing power,” he said.
“She’s going to continue fighting on and raising money and reaching her goal.”
Raising up kids through the Terry Fox Award is one of Dionne’s favourite parts of his job, he said.
“We’re just lifting up our youth. Even though they’re young, they’re role models even for us adults,” he said.
“I’ve got to congratulate her and her family. it’s well deserved.”
As for Chelsea, she said winning the award was “a little overwhelming.
“It’s a good feeling, though, to know that what I’ve been through is being awarded with something, even though it wasn’t fun.”
Chelsea is currently in her second year of studies at the University of Saskatchewan (Usask), where she is pursuing a Bachelor of Science. She hopes to one day work in the health care system and use her experience to make life better for kids going through a similar struggle to the one she faced.
In the meantime, she said, she’ll continue giving back.
“Whatever money raised can help possibly bring better treatment options that might have less of a side effect that will make it easier for them to recover,” she said, “And maybe, eventually, a cure.”