Sitting at Tim Hortons, Danielle Rushing’s head was swirling with the words her mom, Marjorie Low, had just shared with her, ‘Hodgkins Lymphoma stage 4’. Her mother was diagnosed with cancer and would begin chemotherapy soon.
“My mom is an amazing lady, and I have watched her overcome lots. She has taught me that even if you don’t feel like doing certain things, you can still go through the pain and struggle because it is possible to overcome them. Through this journey, my mom and I have become closer now, and I will forever appreciate watching her courage to overcome all the adversities in her life,” says Danielle.
Marjorie’s cancer journey began in the summer of 2020 when she started feeling unwell and was constantly in and out of the hospital. Due to the onset of the pandemic, the doctors initially thought Marjorie had COVID-19 and was told to rest. She was also waiting for hip surgery at this time. It wasn’t until an emergency visit to the hospital that further tests were done, and she was diagnosed with stage 4 Hodgkins Lymphoma.
Marjorie’s cancer treatment began right away, and she was admitted to the Foothills Medical Centre and got some support from the Rockview Hospital in Calgary. Danielle remains grateful for her mother’s amazing cancer care team, who supported her in these unprecedented times to the best of their ability.
“We are all so very thankful for the health care we have here. We are grateful for the team of people who have cared for my mom. The nurses, oncologists, pharmacists, health care aides etc., all played a role in my mom’s healing,” says Danielle.
Danielle is also thankful for her father and sister, who were a source of great help and support when Marjorie was diagnosed with cancer.
“My sister, dad and myself, took turns taking her to the hospital. She was on a rotation schedule, and we would figure out when her next appointments were. I have to say my dad did amazing at that time. He struggles with shoulder pain, and despite his health issues, he made sure my mom made her appointments and asked us to help when needed. My sister also works in the hospital, so her connections and knowledge of pharmaceuticals came very handy for my mom’s care,” recalls Danielle.
Currently, Marjorie is in remission and is waiting for her hip surgery and does not require chemotherapy treatments anymore. Danielle is proud of her mother and amazed at her ability to overcome all the setbacks in her cancer journey.
“My mom underwent chemo treatments rigorously and from time to time and had setbacks due to infections. But she’s was a champion, and she fought hard. Chemo is no joke, and it pushes the body so hard. I watched my mom get poked, her feet getting swollen, her struggling to breathe after a few steps and through it all, she didn’t complain. She knew that it would be a tough journey and took everything in stride one day at a time even if she didn’t feel good,” says Danielle.
“I decided that since my mom would lose her hair, we could shave our heads together. Truthfully, my mom’s whole experience inspired me to do it. Once I made this decision and got connected to Michelle at the Alberta Cancer Foundation, it was easy to reach out to my network to share what I was doing with them. I was overwhelmed by the generosity of the community and my friends and colleagues. The pandemic has made it difficult for everyone. However, it didn’t stop so many from generously giving to my cause,” notes Danielle.
“I have to give a big shout-out to the Alberta Cancer Foundation, who supported me through this whole journey. They made it seamless and easy to advertise my cause, and they made it easy for my donors to give! I was impressed by the communication and support and the dedication to seeing me successful in this! I cannot thank everyone enough for their tremendous efforts,” says Danielle.
Danielle thinks it is important to give back to the Alberta Cancer Foundation because of the impact that the Foundation has had on Albertans.
“I will forever support the Alberta Cancer Foundation. First off, it’s Albertans helping Albertans. As an Albertan, I feel privileged to support the Foundation, which has a mission for a cancer-free future!” she says.
Her advice to those wanting to fundraise for cancer is to reach out to the Alberta Cancer Foundation for support and tips on how to go about it. She always believes in getting creative and having fun while fundraising. Danielle thinks it essential to be compassionate towards oneself when dealing with a family member or loved one facing cancer:
“Being on the sidelines and feeling helpless is such a challenging place to be. Know you aren’t alone! There are those who stand with you and support you. As you watch your loved one fight a tough battle, some stand with you and support you in your moments of grief, helplessness and fear. Take it one day at a time and enjoy the moments you all have together. It is tough, so have compassion for yourself and be patient with yourself. It is ok to make sure you get self-care too. It is not easy, but it is imperative,” notes Danielle.
Danielle extends her support towards those facing cancer and admires the perseverance of the patients and their families.
“Cancer affects so many of us, and often we all ask why us and how will we get through this time. There is so much unknown, and it can be terrifying. It takes a lot of strength. I want those facing cancer to know that they are seen, heard and recognized. You should be proud of this journey because the scars you bear depict how you have come a long way, and that is what courage looks like,” says Danielle.
We are thankful to Danielle and her family for choosing to give back to others facing cancer.