April 8, 2017. I remember the evening so clearly as it shifted my perspective in ways unimaginable: I was laughing, and crying, but mostly, I was smiling. I was watching Kiss and Cry, a feature film based on a true story about Carley Allison, a teen figure skater and singer from Toronto, who was diagnosed with a one in 3.5 billion type of cancer. I was never lucky enough to meet Carley, but Kiss and Cry’s rawness and realness portrays her fierceness, her courage, and her grace, as she fights cancer in a way most wouldn’t think - with a smile on her face. Her motto was “Always Smile,” and although Carley passed away in 2015, her message continues to be a source of inspiration and light for those dealing with adversity.
Carley's motto is a testament to how strong she was throughout her cancer journey, and how positive she remained, even in the hardest times. Her story and motto continuously inspire me, and the worlds individuals to keep pushing through challenges that arise in life. “Always Smile” has reminded me to stay hopeful for better days ahead and to remain grateful for the present ones. And of course, to always find a reason to smile.
Carley’s legacy lives on through the Carley's Angels Foundation, a foundation started by Carley herself where people could direct donations. Today, Riley Allison, Carley’s older sister, and the chair of Carley's Angels passionately strives to ensure the foundation continues to evolve. Riley Allison shares that during Carley’s battle, holistic treatments proved to be very effective, but they were not easily accessible as they required travelling long distances and paying out of pocket. Therefore, the ultimate goal of the Carley’s Angels Foundation is to unite “traditional and holistic cancer care in hospitals so that cancer patients can receive all the care they need for the whole person and whole body in one place.” Riley Allison and the team behind Carley’s Angels make strides toward funding more “ground-breaking and necessary holistic cancer care programs” as well as raising awareness through “initiatives to spread the inspirational message of always smile.”
Although the non-profit is based in Toronto, there are ways to support from Montreal. Currently, they are holding their first international event: A Fund Duel between Sarah Fisher and Luke Bilyk, the Co-Stars of Kiss and Cry. They’ve each made a short video expressing what “always smile” means to them on www.fundduel.com/carley/. To participate, either join #TeamSarah or #TeamLuke by donating to them or upload a photo of yourself smiling and have your friends and family donate to them on your behalf! This event is going on until July 18, 2019.
Other than this international event, you can get involved year-round by donating at www.teamcarley.ca; joining #TeamCarley by signing up for the mailing list; taking a road-trip down to Toronto and volunteering at events; sharing Carley’s story and spreading the message of “always smile” on your social media; and applying to become a Carley’s Angels Ambassador! These are some ways to help inspire integrative cancer care through Carley’s Angels from Montreal.
If this has inspired you in anyway, if Carley’s motto resonates with you, or if you are passionate about uniting traditional and holistic cancer care in hospitals, I strongly suggest learning more and getting involved with the Carley’s Angels Foundation. And remember, there is always a reason to smile.
To learn more: Watch Kiss and Cry, available on Netflix
Read “Always Smile: Carley Allison's Secrets for Laughing, Loving and Living” by Alice Kuipers available on Amazon, at Indigo and at www.teamcarley.ca/product/always-smile/
Follow their social accounts:
Instagram - @carleysangels
Facebook - @teamcarley
Website - www.teamcarley.ca/
My name is Melissa Migueis and I am a student at Dawson College in the profile Cinema-Communications. I love to lead a healthy lifestyle by eating clean, being active and keeping a healthy mindset! Oh, and you can always find me somewhere in nature!