Northern Cancer Fund
Making Hope possible
The Northern Cancer Fund raises funds that are 100% dedicated to supporting excellence in cancer care in Northwestern Ontario. The Northern Cancer Fund supports initiatives such as The Linda Buchan Centre for Breast Screening and Assessment, the tbaytel Tamarack House and smoking cessation programs for patients throughout Northwestern Ontario.
Your Donations Make HOPE Possible
The Thunder Bay Breast Cancer Support Group brings HOPE to women travelling their Breast Cancer Journey. The support group is made possible thanks to your donations:
“There is always hope. That’s what we provide.”
Ruthanne Francis, a facilitator at the Thunder Bay Breast Cancer Support Group’s monthly meetings, says that from deep experience. Her own journey with breast cancer started 14 years ago when she was 42 years old. A mother herself - and very close to her nieces and nephew whose own mother had died of breast cancer a year before - she said that HOPE is what kept her going.
“There was no way I could scare the heck out of my family again,” Francis said. “I just had deep faith and a positive attitude and said, ‘It’s small, they found it early, I’m going to be fine.’”
Now, after being cancer-free for nine years, she still attends the Breast Cancer Support Group. Francis said that breast cancer survivors in themselves represent a physical symbol of hope to others.
“The beauty of our group is that we have all gone through the same thing,” Francis said. “Some details may be different – every tumour is different – but reactions to treatment, challenges and feelings are often similar. As women, by nature we tend to protect those around us. It’s good to be able to truly share how you really feel in a safe place.”
Topics discussed cover a wide range of issues including difficulties with relationships, body image, finances, talking to your own kids about cancer, and of course facing this potentially fatal disease itself.
“There are just so many things. You really can’t advise someone unless you’ve been there.”
The meetings are completely casual with no expectations of anyone needing to talk. Some people come in and listen for one meeting and get what they need while others stay involved with the group for years.
“We know we can help you with something,” she said. “Whether you choose to just come once or on a continual basis… I don’t think there’s ever been a person who hasn’t been happy that they came.”
Aside from the monthly meetings, many members of the group are also active in the community, especially in fundraising events like the Bearskin Airlines Hope Classic, Luncheon of Hope, Bachelors for Hope Auction, Relay for Life, Run for the Cure, and of course Dragon Boating with the Dragons of Hope. For many, this social aspect is one of the most important aspects of the group.
“Ladies who have had breast cancer certainly know how to celebrate life,” Francis said.
For the meetings themselves, anywhere from 10 to 45 people might attend, depending on the night. The group observes full confidentiality, so members can talk freely.
The group also welcomes speakers on occasion to provide good information on a variety of related topics. However absolutely no medical advice is given – that is left to the professionals – and the emphasis is always on giving emotional support to those who need it.
The most important thing about the group is the relationships you develop with people.
“It becomes a very close sisterhood of sorts,” Francis said. “I always say when I’m welcoming new people that while no one here is happy that you had to seek us out, we are happy to see that you’re here.”
Proudly supported by the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Foundation, thanks to your kind donations.