Alyssa’s stocking; family of cancer victim asks for acts of kindness in her honour
HALIFAX -- It’s been a heartbreaking year for Patricia MacNeil and her family, after losing her 22-year-old daughter Alyssa to cancer.
“I knew Christmas was going to be difficult for us this year, not having Alyssa with us for the first time,” says Patricia MacNeil. “I just couldn’t bear to not hang her stocking with the rest of ours, and certainly couldn’t bear to see it empty.”
Rather than withdraw, Patricia decided to channel her daughter’s kind spirit to help others.
“I made a Facebook post and sent it out to everybody, asking them to do deeds of goodwill. On our deck we have a big pink present, and people could drop their cards in there, letting us know the good deeds we did. I put them into Alyssa’s stocking, and on Christmas morning our family is going to take our time and lovingly open each one and read about all the good deeds.”
On Wednesday, Patricia and family delivered pajamas to the seniors at Dartmouth’s Oakwood Terrace, which she said was a perfect way to honour Alyssa’s memory.
“We were trying to think of some way to honour her memory, and anyone who knew her knows that she was always cold and love her ‘jammies’, so we felt how fitting. Plus the seniors aren’t going to have the same kind of Christmas that they usually would have.”
Alyssa was four-years-old when she was first diagnosed with cancer. She defied the odds and made many memories, including having her wish granted of meeting Cinderella on what was at the time CTV Breakfast Television.
“She was a little spitfire. Everyone who met her fell in loved with her. She was not the least bit shy. She never felt sorry for herself. She was always laughing and smiling and trying to do good for others,” recalls Patricia.
Alyssa, who was also an avid bowler and huge fan of the Montreal Canadiens, defied the odds and beat cancer multiple times. Tragically, she was re-diagnosed in August of 2019, and was told that at that point, the cancer was incurable.
“She made a little list of things she wanted to do. Nothing was selfish. It was all about spending time with her friends and her family, and her biggest wish was a pink party, a big farewell party. Over 300 people showed up to her party, it was amazing.”
Alyssa passed away on Jan. 18, at the age of 22. Now her family is keeping her memory alive through acts of kindness.
“As hard as it is to not have her this Christmas, we’re doing our best to honour her memory. That’s my new purpose in life, I guess. It was always being Alyssa’s mom and now it is carrying on her memory and making sure no one ever forgets her.”
A new tradition that pays it forward, and remembers an amazing young woman who was lost too soon.