Special Moments

“Volunteers don’t get paid, not because they’re worthless, but because they’re priceless.”

Sherry Anderson

Lori Colwell is a retired grandmother of one baby boy. She sings in a choir, volunteers at Rockyview Hospital, and enjoys keeping active through yoga, walking, and golf.

Lori chose to become involved with Wings of Hope because it is 100% volunteer-run and it directly supports patients who are struggling with paying rent, putting food on the table, and getting to their appointments. Lori served as a board member of Wings of Hope as the Director of Programs and worked with the Augmented Financial Assistance Program committee for three years.

Lori wishes more people understood how financially strapped patients can become as they go through cancer treatments. Not being able to work, not having health coverage or employment insurance can be devastating to families as they navigate the cancer journey. Lori fondly remembers how appreciative all of the clients she assisted were that Wings of Hope helped them pay their bills and put groceries on the table for their families.

After Lori left Wings of Hope, she felt it was important to continue to bring awareness to new segments of the population about the good work of Wings of Hope so she started Warriors of Hope. Warriors of Hope tries to do that by holding an annual yoga event (Yogis R Warriors) to raise awareness of the Wings of Hope charity to yoga enthusiasts who know the importance of yoga to physical and mental health and how yoga can play such an important part of healing from cancer.

Warriors of Hope has raised over $26,000 for Wings of Hope over the past two years through their annual yoga event. This year the annual yoga event had to be canceled due to the Covid-19 crisis. However, Lori encouraged her sponsors, SunLife Financial and Susan Rust Realtor, to donate their sponsorship money to Wings of Hope, which they generously did. Warriors of Hope is also encouraging all of their friends and supporters who are financially able to please consider making a donation directly to Wings of Hope.

Angie Cameron and her dog, Gizmo, have a bond unlike any other, “he’s my little lifesaver”. Angie explained that Gizmo detected her tumour by aggressively pawing at her chest for over a month, prompting her to move up her yearly scheduled mammogram. In April of 2019, Angie was diagnosed with invasive ductal carcinoma stage 2 grade C, an aggressive type of breast cancer. Angie had surgery and began treatment at the end of May 2019, leaving her and her family with little time to prepare for the challenging road ahead. 

To make matters worse, Angie’s family had recently experienced a series of unfortunate setbacks, including two car accidents and multiple injuries (resulting in periodic unemployment).  Angie explained that when you live paycheque to paycheque, it’s hard to build a nest egg: “every time we were able to put something extra away, it seemed something bad would happen; erasing our savings”.

To add to the stress, following Angie’s diagnosis, her father underwent triple bypass surgery and two of her four beloved pooches passed away (not Gizmo).  To help manage their finances, Angie and her husband moved to a smaller apartment, but Angie explains they still risked homelessness, as bills piled up.

Although Angie worked to connect low-income and homeless people with resources in the community for over 15 years; it never occurred to Angie to ask for help for herself.  Then one day, she was put in touch with the social workers at Tom Baker Cancer Centre, who in turn connected her with Wings of Hope.  Angie describes the financial assistance from Wings of Hope as “a saviour”.

Wings of Hope allowed Angie to keep her home by paying her rent for 3.5 months; it also allowed Angie to purchase healthier foods from the grocery store – which tend to be more expensive than the less healthy processed items.  Angie explained, “if you don’t have the emotional and financial help during your treatment, you’re out of luck, and I don’t know how I would have done it without all of the support” from organizations like Wings of Hope. 

Angie wants to share her story so that more people can understand that extreme financial stress caused by an illness can happen to anyone – and that the assistance Wings of Hope provides is critical to helping people through. 

Angie returned to work in March and will find out in June of this year how well the surgery and treatment have worked. Gizmo remains her faithful companion and hasn’t pawed at her chest since the surgery.