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Teachers, community rally around Glenmont girl fighting cancer

Sorren Spinney of Glenmont was only five years old when she was diagnosed with Stage 3 Lymphoma in early July.
Sorren Spinney of Glenmont was only five years old when she was diagnosed with Stage 3 Lymphoma in early July.

CANNING - Sorren Spinney is feeling the love from her community as she battles cancer at the tender age of six.

The Glooscap Elementary School student’s life changed drastically at the beginning of the summer break. Sorren’s parents, Glenmont residents Jonathan Spinney and Andrea Trembelas-Spinney, suddenly noticed a lump on their daughter’s neck in early July.

They meticulously monitored the lump, and made several trips to the local emergency department as doctors worked to determine why the swelling was not subsiding.

“It was just our instinct that something wasn’t right. That is what saved her,” said Trembelas-Spinney.

“Our biggest asset as parents is our instinct.”

Trembelas-Spinney said they did not notice any tell-tale signs or symptoms before the lump appeared. No fever. No pain. No discomfort.

Sorren Spinney, 6, sends some love to her supporters.

She vividly remembers the day they were rushed to the IWK Health Centre in Halifax for additional testing that would reveal the final diagnosis – Stage 3 Lymphoma.

“It was very shocking,” she said, adding that they were informed this is a particularly fast-growing form of cancer that required immediate action.

Sorren’s treatment plan was determined soon after the formal diagnosis, and she’s undergoing a six-month stretch of intense chemotherapy that will be followed by two years of maintenance.

“As soon as this started happening she turned into a little adult,” her mother said.

Sorren was expected to remain in the IWK for the majority of September to allow her body to grow stronger but, as of Sept. 11, doctors were optimistic their young patient could be well enough to attend a special event that will be held in her honour at the end of the month.

There are several reasons why Rachel Creasor , a teacher at Glooscap elementary , decided to organize a benefit for Sorren’s family.

The Phinney family is overwhelmed by the support they’ve received from the community at large since six-year-old Sorren was diagnosed with lymphoma in July. Pictured, from left to right, is: Jonathan Spinney, Seth Spinney, Sorren Spinney, Andrea Trembelas-Spinney, Sam Spinney and Silas Spinney.

“Because she is a student at Glooscap, and we care very deeply about the kids who attend the school. Because she is only six, and her only cares should be snacks, recess and getting hugs from her big brothers. Because I am a parent and I know I would need support if I was going through this... but mostly I wanted to help out because childhood cancer - cancer at any age - is not something you should ever face alone,” said Creasor , who noted that Trembelas-Spinney has been a dedicated member of Glooscap’s Home and School committee for many years.

“I have children of my own. It is important to me that my children understand that we can help each other to make life better for all of us. We try to take things on as a community at Glooscap. The Spinneys are important to us and we will be there for them in whatever way we can.”

The fundraiser Creasor has planned, dubbed Superheroes For Sorren, is slated to take place in the gym of the Canning-based school Sept. 30 from 9 a.m. to noon. The event will include a number of children’s activities, including bounce castles, face painting, balloons and a performance by Matt the Music Man.

There will also be refreshments, a photo booth, a message book for Sorren, silent and ticket auctions, and a 50/50 draw.

“The children at Glooscap will be raising money in their classes (and) with each donation they will fill out a ballot. On the 30th, if their name is drawn, they will get a chance to shave a teacher’s head, either Mrs. Pinch, or Ms. Creasor’s,” said Creasor .

“All attendees are asked to dress as their favourite superhero for the event.

The proceeds raised will help the Spinney family cope with travel and medical costs at a time when Trembelas-Spinney must stop working and focus on her daughter’s health.

Six-year-old Sorren Spinney is currently undergoing chemotherapy treatments for lymphoma.

The mother of four often gets emotional when she reflects on the support they’ve received since Sorren’s diagnosis.

“You feel so much love and I just think of what it teaches my kids about service because in our little family we are very active in our church … and we are firm believers in serving others, and I just love that my kids can see what kindness and love and service can do to help others.”

She knows it touches her daughter’s heart when friends, family and teachers take the time to visit her in the hospital, or pass along words of encouragement.

“She just glows,” said Trembelas-Spinney, describing Sorren as a “girly girl” who loves unicorns and the colour purple.

“She’s such an easygoing kid. She brings so much joy… her favourite things in the world are cuddles and ‘Sethy hugs’ from her oldest brother.”

Beth Huntley from the Big Wigs Family Diner in Canning held a cupcake sale Sept. 8 to collect donations for Sorren’s family, and Trembelas-Spinney could hardly believe that 400 cupcakes sold within a matter of a few hours.

“I always called Sorren my vanilla cupcake with chocolate sprinkles… and they made some and sold them for her,” said Trembelas-Spinney, noting that the community support continues to amaze her.

“I was shocked at how many people were so willing to do whatever they could.”

As for Sorren, she’s soaking up all of the support and taking her treatments in stride.

“I know that she feels loved,” said Trembelas-Spinney.

Online donations can be made through For more information, contact Rachel Creasor at


If you go

The Superheroes for Sorren fundraiser will take place in the gym of Glooscap Elementary School in Canning from 9 a.m. to noon Sept. 30.

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