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West Island community rallies around young Les Cèdres family affected by cancer

Community rallies around young West Island Family
WATCH: People from around the West Island are banding together to help a young family through the holidays. Global's Phil Carpenter has more.

Asking for help isn’t easy for Les Cèdres resident Anushka Panesar. But she feels she has few options.

“There’s no good time for this to be happening, but I think this is probably the worse time for it to be happening,” she said, sobbing.

Her husband, Yatsen André, has brain cancer — grade 4 glioblastoma.

“It’s been a long road,” Paneshar told Global News.  “Three-and-a-half years ago, he was diagnosed the first time, and he was operated on.”

But the cancer came back four times, most recently on Oct. 23 of this year.

“It presented with a tumour in the original place and a new tumour in the corpus callosum, which is the mid-section of the brain,” she explained.

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He’s now receiving care at the West Island Palliative Care Centre, and she doesn’t know how much time he has left.  She’s a massage therapist but has had to take time off work to help take care of him and their two sons, Xavier André, five, and Xander Panesar, three.

She was pregnant with Xander when her husband was first diagnosed.

“My oldest and I have had a couple sessions crumpled on the floor crying,” she said, wiping tears. “Him telling me he doesn’t want to have his father never come home.  My youngest doesn’t understand as much, but he misses his dad.”

Since she isn’t working, it’s also been hard, financially.

“It’s financial help right now,” she stressed, explaining her needs. “Groceries, things that are going to get us through the next couple of months until I can start working again.”

The community has been stepping up, though.  Life coach Caroline Bougie first met Panesar when she attended one of Bougie’s workshops.  Bougie, who owns Inspiration 2 Intention Life Coaching, has been doing what she can to help Panesar, with advice and emotional support.

Bougie also placed two boxes at the Brunswick Medical Center in Pointe Claire, where people have been dropping off donations.

“There are signs on the boxes that say a list of things that actually are gifts that Anushka came up with for the kids,” she pointed out.

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On the list are board games, educational games, Lego toys, arts and craft supplies — anything the boys’ mother thinks can help make the holidays special for her sons.

Other friends have launched a GoFundMe campaign to help raise money.

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Panesar says all of the support helps her focus on caring for her family and having her sons spend time with their father, especially since this year is the first time her older son has been excited about Christmas.

She stressed that she wants him to have the best time possible this year, despite the circumstances.

“This week they watched Star Wars together and my sons are addicted,” she laughed.

Panesar said she wants to create many good memories, no matter how painful things are now.

“It’s his birthday tomorrow,” she said weeping.  “He’s gonna be 44.”

On top of that, it’s also the 15th anniversary of them being together.