She can’t tell them what a wonderful gift they’ve given her and they’ll always have a place in her heart.
43-year-old Cindy Roberts of Harmony was diagnosed with breast cancer last August. Her doctor gave her a book called The Intelligent Patient Guide to Breast Cancer. This was a helpful resource that educated her about the health care journey she was about to embark on.
“There was no end in resources for me but none for me to give to my kids so that they could relate to something,” Roberts said.
At the time of her diagnosis, her children, son Chase and daughter Fable, were age nine and seven. Roberts asked cancer patient navigators at the Valley Regional Hospital and the IWK about finding age-appropriate resource books for children.
Roberts said you can’t simply walk into a library and borrow them or visit the local book store and buy them. They can be purchased online, if you can afford to do so.
Roberts said it was two months before her friend brought her the book Cancer Hates Kisses home from Saskatchewan, having purchased it in a book store there. This alleviated some of the stress Roberts was feeling from not being able to access resources for her kids.
A young hockey player on the Western Valley Spartans who knows Roberts, Jack Scoville, asked his teammates about holding a fundraiser for her. They agreed, playing a hockey game as a benefit for Roberts and raising more than $400.
Roberts asked if they would mind if she used $300 to purchase breast cancer resource books for children to donate to local libraries. The young hockey players were quick to throw their support behind the cause.
“I can’t express what a wonderful gift they gave me, really. They’ll always have a place in my heart,” Roberts said.
She also wants to impress on them how many lives they may touch in the future because of what they’ve done.
Roberts said she was diagnosed early and her prognosis is good. However, she points out that with younger women being diagnosed with breast cancer, younger children are being affected. Her experience has also opened her eyes to the fact that publicly accessible, age-appropriate resources relating to other forms of cancer are lacking.
Impressed with initiative
Kings-West Progressive Conservative candidate of record Chris Palmer said he was very impressed with the young Western Valley Spartans hockey players who stepped up and helped raise funds for Roberts. He said we can learn a lot from them.
“It’s amazing when young people take the initiative and are willing to help others in need,” Palmer said. “As a community leader, it inspires me to do more as well.”
Palmer has known Roberts for about 10 years. He was “shocked” when, following her diagnosis, she told him there were no resources available publicly for young children coping with a parent with a serious illness like breast cancer.
After Roberts spoke with Palmer and provincial PC leader Tim Houston about how they could help, Palmer and Houston committed to making personal donations so that some resource books for local libraries can be purchased.
“One of the things I’d like to do is reach out to our PC MLA’s and constituency associations across the province for similar donations for purchasing those needed resources for their own local libraries,” Palmer said.
He also wants to advocate for government to make such resources available in hospitals and doctor’s offices for families going through difficult times.
Roberts said that because the PC party has jumped on board, the initiative of the young Spartans could result in age-appropriate breast cancer resource books for kids being placed in libraries across Nova Scotia. She wanted this to be a learning experience for the children and she said they’ve done a great job.