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Exceptional Cancer CareExceptional Cancer Care Campaign Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Foundation


Lesley Nuttall's Story


Cancer. It’s impossible to describe the fear and desperation that comes from hearing that your child has cancer. Our son Tom was just 49 when he was diagnosed with cancer in January 2012 by Dr. Eric Touzin in Sioux Lookout. Because there are over 200 different kinds of lymphoma, it took several months before they learned that it was follicular lymphoma, so treatment could start.


Tom was immediately referred to the Cancer Centre in Thunder Bayto Dr. Nicole Laferriere. Tom had a tumour in his stomach that couldn’t be surgically removed because of the blood vessels through it. His treatment was chemotherapy which he started in Dryden at the Dryden Regional Health Centre. The chemotherapy nurses, Jennifer and Cathy were so great, always making sure that Tom was comfortable. I have nothing but the highest praise for them.


Tom’s treatments ran smoothly, so at the halfway mark, he continued the treatments in his hometown of Sioux Lookout. He told me that the nurses there were excellent too!


Unfortunately, the tumour didn’t shrink as much as Dr. Laferriere had hoped. Radiation therapy was the next step which meant that Tom would have to be in Thunder Bay during the five weeks of treatment. He started this treatment in January 2013, Monday to Friday with Dr. Margaret Anthes overseeing his treatments. I travelled with him since my husband Craig, who is the Mayor of Dryden, couldn’t get away for that long but was supportive by telephone nightly.


Fortunately, Tom and I were able to stay at the Tbaytel Tamarack House across from the Cancer Centre. It’s a “home away from home” where we stayed Monday to Friday for his cancer treatment, travelling back to Dryden for the weekend. It’s a wonderful place and is open to all regional patients. The staff  were incredible and the facility includes such amenities as TVs, computer, free WIFI, library, laundry facilities, a quiet sitting room, a kitchen with fridge and freezer, sitting area and lunch room, a large common area with shuffleboard, and a puzzle sitting out for everyone to add a piece at their leisure.


There was also a piano and an organ in the common area. I love to play and was able to entertain the patients in the afternoons. I also took my accordion and in the evening I would play again and some of the patients, and even staff, would get up and dance. When you think of cancer treatments, you might think of patients sitting around gloomy, but that wasn’t the case. The camaraderie and support they receive at the Tamarack House became just as important as the treatments. I was grateful that I could be part of making someone’s life a little more bearable.


Today, Tom is taking maintenance chemotherapy every three months which he will for several more years. He still isn’t back to work, and that’s one of the big things you learn with cancer – you have to take it one day at a time.


Many services that make a difference to cancer care such as the Tamarack House exist thanks to support from the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Foundation and the kindness of its donors.


I 'd like to voice my thanks at the wonderful care Tom received, and thank you for your donation to our region’s Exceptional Cancer Care Campaign. Tom got the absolute best cancer care available, and I want to make sure that future patients from Dryden, Sioux Lookout, and all across Northwestern Ontario also get the same level of great care that Tom did. None of us know when we might need cancer care services – it just makes sense to have the best cancer care we possibly can.


Thank you.

Lesley Nuttall
Mother of a Cancer Patient
Dryden Resident
Proud Supporter of the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Foundation