Stem cells a common connection for Distinguished Alumni Award Winners.
Cancer is scary.
It is physically draining. It is emotionally taxing. It is painful.
Sarah White understands all those feelings. She has lived through them as a cancer survivor. Twice.
Now the Social Work graduate is trying to make life easier for others coping with a cancer diagnosis through her work with the Northern Cancer Survivor Society. The society she founded in 2015 holds bi-monthly support groups, provides individual encouragement, arranges hospital visits and organizes fun social events.
“I was in a dark place when I started the group,” says White, who was first diagnosed with leukemia in 2012 at age 28.
“Connecting with so many beautiful souls in our community, from all different backgrounds, and all ages and stages was and continues to be one of the most exceptionally profound experiences of my life.”
The disease came back a year later, but after a stem-cell transplant she has been in remission.
“I may have started this group but it is the members who make it what it is,” she says. “I am grateful for every experience I have had. People who have faced death know how to really live.”
White is currently working on her Master of Education in Counselling degree where she is planning to apply what she learned with the Northern Cancer Survivor Society. As part of her research project, she is expecting to develop the first-ever extensive peer resource guide for those diagnosed with cancer.
For White, stem cells played a life-saving role in her battle against cancer. For Dr. David Llewellyn, they play a critical role in his professional life. Llewellyn, Senior Vice President for Business Operations at STEMCELL Technologies, received the Professional Excellence Award.
Llewellyn grew up in Prince George and was part of the first graduating class of two students from the Chemistry Department in 1997.
He regularly gives back to his alma mater, visiting UNBC to meet with students and hire UNBC graduates. He engages students in research talks discussing various initiatives at STEMCELL and provides informative lectures on the work in which his company is involved.
“The education I received at UNBC was excellent and set the stage for my career,” he says. “I am very thankful to the University and all of the time that the professors spent on my development.”