One less challenge for West-Enders like Wendy
By Cancer Foundation on August 9 / 2017
[Cancer Coaching, Families, News]
Because of you generosity, Wendy Firth and other cancer survivors who live out in the west end have one less challenge to face.
“My younger son, he’s very affectionate,” says Wendy Firth, a mother of two boys, 9-year-old Jacob and Joshua, who’s 11.
“Whenever he thinks I’m not doing well, he kisses me. ‘Mum,’ he says, ‘you don’t look very good – kiss Mum, kiss!’ Now I’m getting a hundred kisses a day!”
That’s because Wendy is recovering from breast cancer, first diagnosed in December of 2015. It’s the second cancer Wendy has faced: fourteen years ago, she was treated for Hodgkin’s disease—cancer in the lymph nodes.
Treatment and recovery have been difficult for Wendy and her family. “The kisses are coming a lot more frequently,” she says, “but my brain isn’t going where Jacob wants it to be. He wants me to be the same person that I was.”
“My kids were affected in a big way, because they had to live with a mum who’s going through chemo, radiation, and surgery. It’s really tough to watch them because I know that the way I’m reacting to treatment is changing who they are.”
In an effort to help her kids through the challenges of having a parent with cancer, Wendy enrolled her sons in the CLIMB program offered at the Cancer Foundation thanks to our community of donors.
The workshop (Children’s Lives Included Moments of Bravery) was a game-changer for Wendy’s family.
“One of the kids at school had said to my younger son, ‘don’t touch me, because I know your mummy has cancer, and if you touch me, you’re going to give it to me’. But with CLIMB, they learned that cancer can’t be transmitted, that it’s okay to show your feelings, it’s okay to cry, and to know that mummy will get better, she’s just sick right now.”
Knowing that her kids were now in a better place, Wendy shifted the focus on her own well-being.
“Most people look at me as Wendy who’s had cancer twice. They don’t understand who I am, but they understand that I’m a sick person. I’d like it if I weren’t looked at as the lady who’s been sick twice.”
Through one-on-one Cancer Coaching and group sessions including Working and Cancer, Brain Fog, and After the Bell, Wendy has been able to address her goals. “Being in a room where everyone has gone through the same thing, I’m part of the crowd. Here, it’s like I’m human.”
But throughout their journey, the Firth family have had to face one barrier repeatedly: distance. They live out in the west-end of Barrhaven, quite a ways from The Ottawa Hospital’s Cancer Center at the General campus and the Cancer Foundation’s Maplesoft Center.
“While I was in chemo, I couldn’t get to Cancer Coaching on my own, I had to have a ride, because I wasn’t in good shape. And for my kids to come to the CLIMB program, I had to ask other people to bring them. And there are still days, even post-treatment, when the drive is too much. It’s really scary when your brain isn’t working properly because of brain fog to have to do that kind of long commute.”
Wendy and her sons were lucky: her friends rallied together and made sure there was always a ride available – whether it was to a session of chemo or a Cancer Coaching workshop.
For many others who live out in the west end, Cancer Coaching is simply out of reach.
Thanks to your generosity, the Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation is now offering Cancer Coaching one day a week for the next year at Beyond Yoga Studio & Wellness Centre in Kanata.
Because of caring donors, cancer patients and their caregivers in the West End are now benefitting from all the support, information and understanding Cancer Coaching provides to families like Wendy and her sons.
Cancer comes with many barriers, but thanks to you, accessing care isn’t one of them. On behalf of everyone who benefits from these expanded services: THANK YOU!
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