City councillor forms cancer support group

It’s going on two years since Rebecca Lennox was diagnosed with colorectal cancer. Aside from dealing with the ensuing physical and emotional distress, the Courtenay councillor has also faced mounting medical expenses.

So she agreed to reach out to the community for a helping hand.

Last December, her friends and family put out a call for support via GoFundMe. Overnight, numerous businesses and individuals — some of them strangers — had contributed $10,000.

“You wake up in the morning and you see that. There’s no other option but to cry. It’s just so moving,” she said. “It’s been an interesting time of life to be navigating something so profoundly personal and private while being a public figure. It was hard for me to come forward. It felt very humbling to have to ask for help. But the support that the community showed me has been staggering.”

A benefit dance/auction raised another $9,000 that has helped alleviate some of her medical debt.

“When I was diagnosed with cancer, it just turns your whole world upside down,” Lennox said. “It’s liberating. I had to look at myself. What caused this disease? I was 32 when I was diagnosed.”

The support of family and friends has inspired her to form a monthly support group for young adults living with cancer. The idea is to provide a comfortable place to chat candidly, and to share ideas. The group met last month for the first time.

“If you don’t know people and you don’t have those supports, what do you do?” Lennox said. “Financial stress is what puts a lot of people on the streets.”

Aside from financial worries, Lennox has experienced a great deal of frustration dealing with the medical system. Considered a high-risk cancer patient, she was told the wait for an MRI would be three months. She wound up waiting 10.

“Some of the hardest parts are getting the doctors and people to do their jobs,” she said. “It’s on the patient to do a lot of the leg work…The reality is, now they’re saying there will be one in two Canadians that will have cancer in their lifetime.

“Cancer is a terrifying disease, but I have seen people heal themselves,” she added. “It’s not unbeatable.”

Her peer support group is only for patients. The next meeting is Wednesday, Dec. 13 from 2:30-5 p.m.

Contact Lennox for more details at Rebeccajlennox@gmail.com

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