Valerie & Alexandra
Determination -- that's the word that describes both Valerie Johnson and her daughter, Alexandra.
Alexandra's cancer was diagnosed in 2003 when she was five, and she had a relapse in 2008.
"It was scary," Alexandra says, "We went to the emergency room, because my chest hurt so much."
"Alexandra goes to chemo once a week, sometimes more," says Valerie, a single mom with six other children who care for her. "It's 196 miles one way. And that's a really hard burden coming up with the gas money, plus eating."
"We've been with the Irving Oil Fuel the Care program since 2005. It made me feel more secure. If it weren't for the Irving Oil gift cards I don't know what I'd do. I think it's awesome what Irving Oil and the Irving Oil employees are doing. I hope they never quit."
"Alexandra has to be well-hydrated before and after her treatments," Valerie explains. "The Irving Oil Fuel the Care program also pays for her snacks and drinks, it's not just for gas - and that's a big help too. The relief the Irving Oil program gives me is really not a small thing."
Alexandra adds, "Irving Oil helps a lot of families. It's one less stress for my mom."
"The second time Alexandra lost her hair, her sisters and I shaved our heads because she was really upset," Valerie recalls. "We let Alexandra know it didn't matter." Today, Alexandra's hair has grown back and is truly beautiful dark and curly - just one outward sign of her inner determination. Now 13 years old, Alexandra is on her school's honor roll.
Throughout the years Valerie too has been in grad school - and is very close to receiving her PhD in psychology. "I bring a laptop to the hospital so I can be with Alexandra and do my school work."
"Alexandra is a fighter," says Valerie. "All my strength and determination comes from her."