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The Whitecourt Cancer & Wellness Society has been playing a big role in helping local cancer patients since it was founded in 2002. One of their most successful programs is the Gas & Grocery Card Program which provides every newly-diagnosed cancer patient with $500 in gas and grocery gift cards.
“Facing cancer in rural communities, you incur a lot of costs.” As a cancer survivor herself, Cheryl Duncan-Molloy, Society Treasurer, understands the high costs that patients are left to pay. Some end up getting a secondary residence in the city for attending doctor visits, resulting in all the costs associated with having a second home. For those who travel, the gas costs alone can add up very fast especially for patients having multiple appointments each week.
“Every trip to Edmonton is a couple hundred dollars. There’s parking and lunch. Sometimes you have to hang around and sometimes you have to stay overnight,” said Cheryl, explaining that depending on how many trips people require, the costs can be significant. “The cost can be on top of medication even if you have a plan.”
Another aspect that adds to the financial burden is being off work. “A lot of people aren’t able to work. They have to take time off and their spouses have to take time off. It’s very expensive even with the health care system we have in Canada.”
The funding used to be on a case-by-case basis but in October 2015 it was changed in order to provide it for all patients. “Sometimes people don’t like to ask for money even if they are hurting. So, we thought this way, we will just give every single person $500 with gas and grocery cards,” explained Cheryl. “It’s one less thing to have to worry about in the midst of worrying about a lot of things.”
The Boob Tour, held every November/December, is the biggest financial boost for the Whitecourt Cancer & Wellness Society card program, “It’s the biggest chunk of our funding and now with this lovely donation we will be able to provide more gas and grocery cards that we give to each and every patient. We are really happy that we are able to provide this funding.” To date, over $30,000 in card packages has been given out thanks in part to those who generously take part in the Boob Tour event.
Friends of Whitecourt president, Trudy Dorward, is glad to help the society in its mission to help local cancer patients. “It’s important to help. Our mandate is to help improve health care and wellbeing in the community and the society is a good cause so we absolutely wanted to help it.”
Cheryl expressed her deep gratitude to Friends of Whitecourt who run Repeat Boutique, “We know it does a great job with fundraising in our community and it’s great to partner with them for this.”