This past weekend I got to kick off Breast Cancer Awareness month by attending a fundraising event called the Peach Party at the Thompson Hotel in Toronto. It was for the Breast Cancer Support fund, a charity that I’m excited to be working with and supporting.
It was an incredibly fun night that hosted hundreds of people for drinks, food, live entertainment, silent auction and of course fundraising all for a great cause. I was seriously so impressed with this event, I can’t wait to make it an annual thing.
Living in Canada means we all assume that if you get sick, you’ll be able to get care and not have to worry about paying the bill. If you are fortunate enough to have a job that includes benefits, or are covered by your spouse’s plan then you assume that medication and extra medical costs will all be covered. Many of us living in Canada don’t even know how much medication costs, and have never had to worry about choosing between paying for medical expenses, or paying for everyday living expenses like rent, car payments, cell phone bills or groceries.
The crazy thing is that no one realizes that something like a cancer diagnosis can cause a lot of financial strain – right when all of your energy and focus needs to be on surviving a disease that is downright scary. I can’t imagine that stress, and no one should have to.
The fact is that many women (and men) who are diagnosed with breast cancer end up dealing with financial stress that comes from a lack of medical benefits, loss of income due to taking time off work, childcare while you’re at appointments or hospitalized, uncovered medications, extra treatments, supplies… not to mention wigs, extra makeup, or hats, and clothing that helps hide surgeries – it’s all expensive and not everyone gets access to these things because they’re not considered medical necessities.
The Breast Cancer Support Fund (BCSF) is the first registered charity in Canada that helps families affected by breast cancer directly. There is an application process, and then the charity is able to help families who need it the most, at a time when they need it the most.
Millions is raised for breast cancer research every year, and I’m grateful for that because all of the research has helped turn what used to be a super scary diagnosis into a diagnosis with a lot more hope and positive outcomes. I was fortunate to be able to get treatment without a looming feeling of ‘this might kill me’ all because of research.
I had to stop working, my husband had to take time off work, arranging child care became a massive part of my life, I had to purchase clothing, supplies and wigs to help get me through feeling like myself. Plus we needed to pay for extra services like grocery delivery, house cleaning and other stuff like that… And even my top notch insurance plan didn’t cover all of the medication I needed, plus non prescription pharmaceutical supplies and over the counter medications that are not covered at all.
Cancer became another financial expense in our lives, and that was something I never expected – because we live in Canada and have insurance. You don’t realize what goes into an illness like this without experiencing it for yourself.
The best part is that we had help. Like, a lot of help. My community raised almost $16,000 for my family in the first couple weeks of my diagnosis – without us asking – Burpees for Boobies, remember? And as uncomfortable as it made me in the beginning, a year later I’m grateful.
I also had friends rotate days to bring us meals – and feeding a family of 4 adds up! They spent their hard earned money on food for us, without even thinking about it. My friends rallied like crazy to be there to help with my kids whenever I needed it… which was everyday for many months.
My son’s daycare and their incredible director held a little fundraiser for me during chemo – collected prizes, sold raffle tickets, the whole nine yards – I am so grateful. Not to mention they were also always so accommodating with his schedule working around my schedule, etc.
We had to make concessions in our everyday spending, and a few things were put on hold – but overall, we were ok, and my cancer diagnosis didn’t mean anything too different from what we were used to financially. Overall, we are making it out of this cancer battle without too much effect moving forward.
That is not the case for way too many families. So many families go into debt, lose income or the job all together and struggle to make ends meet for their children. It’s something that is hard for me to wrap my head around – because I couldn’t imagine worrying about where the money is coming from to pay bills when all you should be worrying about is surviving cancer. For your family.
So, if you want to learn more about how you can help an important cause – check out their website and social media below.
Better yet, we’ll see you at the Peach Party next year!