Its been a difficult year for Laura Elliott – while planning her wedding, she was diagnosed with breast cancer and had to undergo multiple surgeries. Two weeks later, her mom was also diagnosed with breast cancer. Now, Elliott and her husband are trying to help others battling the disease.
Elliott felt grateful to live within half an hour of medical help — but her mom was not in the same boat. She lives hours from the nearest cancer treatment centre in Newfoundland.
“With her radiation and chemo and stuff, she had to travel. Thankfully she had a brother in St. John’s whom she stayed with and it didn’t cost her anything,” Elliott said.
Having been off work for months because of her cancer, bills have been piling up for Elliott and her husband Steve Bridger. The pair said they couldn’t imagine having to pay for travel and hotels on top the physical and emotional burden they are already facing.
“That sparked our interest to help others, because we know what it’s like to financially have it hard, because we have in the last year,” Elliott explained.
The couple is opening up a bedroom, as well as a bathroom and laundry space in their Fort Saskatchewan home to anyone travelling for cancer treatments — completely free of charge.
“We want to be there for people that are going through things that we’ve been through as a family. And cancer is a nasty disease — so we need to reach out and help each other as much as possible,” Elliott said.
“Because we’re going through it, at least we’re on the same page,” Bridger said. “We can talk to them, maybe help them lighten up their spirits.”
They posted the offer on Facebook, where it went viral. Elliott received messages from a cancer patient who had been living in a hotel for a year while undergoing treatments and another person who was coming to the Stollery Children’s Hospital from Ontario with a sick child.
“I had thousands. Some were so heartbreaking. I could barely read them all, the tears just flew,” she said.
All the couple is asking for is a doctor’s note, confirming the diagnosis and treatments. They’ll start taking requests in the new year.
“To feel the joy or happiness of helping somebody else out, that’s what it’s all about.”