Being surrounded by support when you have cancer can make all the difference in the world, as it has for Betty Rodrigues.
“I’m blessed,” she told Global News. “I have my children, I have my boyfriend and his family, and I’m surrounded by love. A lot of people aren’t.”
Rodrigues is being treated for ovarian cancer and since September, for a few times a week, she gets part of that help at the West Island Cancer Wellness Centre, a yellow house on Barry Street in Kirkland.
West Island Cancer Wellness Centre in Kirkland. (Global News)
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“[I do] yoga, the meditation, the reiki massages,” she says. “And it gets me out of the house and not thinking about what’s happening to me.”
Volunteers at the centre have been giving cancer patients and their families non-medical assistance for more than a decade. Centre founder and executive director Debbie Magwood says though medical treatments are obviously key, other kinds of treatment are important, too.
“There’s so many other psychosocial components to being diagnosed with cancer that we need to consider,” Magwood said.
But she says the centre needs all the financial help they can get in order to keep going. That’s why they had their first ever five-kilometre run and walk for families, organized by Surrey House Communications, to raise cash for their services.
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“Counselling services, meditation services, nutrition, yoga classes, massages, things of that nature,” explained Rodrigues’ boyfriend Fernando Dargenio, describing some of those services. It was partly his idea for Rodrigues to go to the centre.
The event happened on a pedestrian path in Kirkland Saturday afternoon with just over a hundred participants dressed like superheroes — hence the name: “Hero Run.”
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“People who donate to us are our heroes because, without them, we couldn’t exist,” said Magwood.
Each participant paid $25.00 to register and all the funds go towards the services.
It didn’t matter to Rodrigues that she was going through treatment. Because the centre has been so supportive to her and her family, she made up her mind to do the entire walk, so that other cancer patients can benefit from the centre too.
“There’s a lot of love, you know,” Rodriques said. “There’s a lot of love in that little yellow house.”