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Put Your Heart Where Your Mouth Is

Updated: Aug 29, 2023

I walked out of the grocery store, I noticed the table being set up as I walked in:

Donations for Breast Cancer.

To be honest, I didn't pay attention to which specific foundation it went to but as I walked past they asked if I wanted to donate. I simply said no thank you as I didn't know where to start or what boundaries I would cross if I stated that I chopped off a breast three weeks ago. Awkward...

<-- Photo Credit Bull Frog Images

Out on a walk with friends, we giggled as we found massive mushrooms and improvised with them as boob props. You have to laugh at yourself to stay sane.

Money is the answer to a lot of problems without a doubt. To be in a position where I'm not wondering how we will make a payment or feed ourselves is a gift I am well aware of in this situation. Many people are not and becoming sick can be an overwhelming stressor physically, mentally, and financially that can't be overcome.

A recent phone call from a nurse asking if I needed social assistance was reassuring that there are programs for those who are unable to afford cancer. It is expensive, the endless trips to the city (325 km minimum round trip), new bras, prosthetics, etc. all add up. Along with having to not work anymore. Thankfully, I have amazing employers who have been so supportive, helped me apply for assistance and continue to have health benefits while going through this. Which is HUGE!

Yes, there are programs through AADL in Alberta to HELP cover the cost. It is not an all-paid program.

Read the poster that is in the changing room at a specialty store and you will see the difference between age/income.

The average cost for ONE prosthesis is $450 which means without private health coverage you are left paying $200 just for the fake boob. Odd considering implants are completely covered? Not everyone has an option for implants after surgery.

This does not include the bra that is built to hold the prosthesis which averages $100 each. A private health plan is meant to fill the gap for this however mastectomy bathing suits are not included as a part of a submissible product after a mastectomy. What? No swimming for you.

Having been through other health problems with family members and clients I'm aware that not everything is meant to be covered by health care. Colostomy and diabetes supplies are other areas where private coverage fills in the gaps. I also understand we can't pay for everything publicly, but sometimes it is odd to me what is and isn't deemed a necessity.

So much money is donated to "societies" you have to be careful where it is going and to what end it is being utilized. Much of that money goes to overhead with only 19 cents of each dollar going to the actual disease. Charity Intelligence Canada rates these foundations by usage and transparency in their financial statements.

I am truly thankful for all the progress made with research, technology and science with regards to cancer treatment/detection. However, I think we have to remember some of the most powerful medicine is connection, support and love.

Who's there for you when your wheels fall off?

Funny story this week, I lost a wheel off the quad trailer on the Anthony Henday. Good thing I'm a mother trucker and steered that baby onto the side of the road. The rim of the tire ripped out every hole on it and destroyed the hub when the trailer fell onto the axle. Thank God no one got hit by the rogue tire on the highway!

Two very kind heavy-duty mechanics who watched it happen stopped and asked if I wanted help. No expectations just good old-fashioned kindness. I hopped in with them and bought a new hub, tire and grease to get me back on the road within an hour.

The point of this story is putting yourself instead of your money to a cause can be even more worthy. I've had an amazing outreach of support from family and friends. Meals, pillows, hugs, texts, cards you name it!

A great way to get involved on a grassroots level is through groups that support cancer patients and survivors. Groups such as Knitted Knockers, Heartstring By Michelle and The Road To Hope. These local Alberta groups support people here with more money per donation going to the actual patient.

Family and local talented sewers have also helped with providing mastectomy pillows to women recovering from surgery. At week three I still drive with mine over my chest. In the event I get in an accident, a seatbelt would feel awful pressing into my body without a buffer.

The road trip that wouldn't end finally found its way to Cadomin where most of our family was able to make the pilgrimage up the Cardinal Divide.

Ironically, in the middle of the mountains, I had two bars of service to Facetime with our daughter making the family complete up there while we set our old dog free to join the North Saskatchewan and Athabasca Rivers.

People remark that I look good, when your heart is happy it's easy. Cancer hasn't taken anything away from me. It's enriched what I already lived and knew deep down inside.

I don't know what the path is yet, if there's treatment in my future or not. What I do know is that worrying about it doesn't change it. I live each day as I please with intent and purpose. Just as I did before and will for a long time...

Sending You Love N' SUP,

Lisa Stocking

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