Community raises over $30,000 for local girl’s fight against Leukemia

By Elisa Nguyen
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Businesses and organizations across the Rainy River District have raised over $30,000 for Aiyana Cochrane in support of her fight against Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, a diagnosis that came just days after Christmas, and the fundraising is still going.

Proceeds earned at the spa run by Esthetician students at Second Generation Education Institute Fort (SGEI) Frances Campus will be donated to Cochrane and her family. Appointments are available Mondays starting February 6 from 3:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

Aimee Beazley, Post Secondary Coordinator at SGEI, said the idea to donate the proceeds to Cochrane’s fight against Leukemia came from the Esthetician students.

Cochrane’s mother, Melanie Mosher, was a student in the Esthetician program who had withdrawn in the second semester in order to be with her daughter in London, Ontario. When her classmates heard about the situation, they quickly agreed to donate what they earned to the family.

“We all miss Melanie and I hope that we see her again,” said Chantelle Spuzak, Esthetics Instructor at SGEI.

Mosher said she was overwhelmed by all the support they have received. She thanked everyone who came out to the merchandise BINGO event hosted in January by Rainy River First Nations Chief, Council, and Staff and which raised over $30,000.

Aiyana Cochrane, left, is battling Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. She got her diagnosis just days after Christmas. The community has rallied to support the family during her treatments, rasing $30,000 and counting, through multiple fundraisers. – Submitted photo

“I could not believe the support of my little girl, I just could not believe it like it just made me cry. I don’t know. I just felt loved,” Mosher said. “I just want to thank them for their support.”

Mosher said the funds have helped pay for the costs of accommodation, food, and parking nearby the hospital.

Over the weekend, Cochrane was admitted to the Children’s Hospital of Winnipeg after contracting the influenza flu virus.

Mosher said that the Leukemia disorder impairs her daughter’s immune system, meaning she has to avoid environments and situations that could get her sick.

Mosher believes that her daughter might’ve caught the virus on Friday during her first ever outing since the diagnosis. The outing took place at Uptown Alley, a bowling and arcade located in Winnipeg, and was organized for cancer patients her age to socialize.

“That’s the only time that she was away,” Mosher said.

The family had gone to their grandparents house for Christmas eve dinner when Cochrane began to feel ill, missing out on the tradition of opening gifts at midnight and the family’s traditional Christmas breakfast.

“She just didn’t have energy,” Mosher said. “She got up to go to the bathroom and that’s when she fell down. And that’s when I was just like, ‘okay, this is enough. I’m getting her in, there is something seriously going wrong.”

On Tuesday, December 27, when the local hospital found that Cochrane’s hemoglobin was only at 39, they quickly called the Ornge air ambulance service to bring her to London, Ontario.

The morning after, Mosher was informed that her daughter had Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL), the most common type of cancer in children, but a diagnosis that no parent wants to hear.

“You only see this stuff on TV. In our small community, you don’t hear of children having leukemia,” Mosher said.

In January, the two were moved to the Winnipeg Cancercare Center for the second part of her chemotherapy treatment.

An update from Cochrane’s father, Brian Cochrane Jr., an employee at Manitou Forest Products, said that Cochrane also has Type 1 Diabetes and Pancreatitis as a result of the chemotherapy.

Moving to the Winnipeg Cancercare Center allowed him to be able to visit Cochrane at the hospital, Mosher said, noting that it was only a three-hour drive from home compared to an 18-hour drive which he took almost every weekend.

“They were just trying to make things work, our family to stay together. So that’s why they agreed to transfer us over here,” Mosher said. “Now he can actually come on Friday nights and stay till Sunday evenings, whereas he only got one day with us.”

Today, Cochrane is still undergoing chemotherapy and is being monitored closely by doctors at the Children’s Hospital in Winnipeg.

“I just wish there was miracles,” said Mosher.