The Unexpected Comfort of Giving

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My mother was diagnosed with cancer in 2008. We were told her condition was treatable, but not curable. To say the diagnosis hit Mom and the rest of the family hard is an understatement.

Statistics[1] hold that most Canadians know all too well the flood of emotions that accompany this news. In addition to new routines and hospital visits, one must suddenly live with a constant fear of the unknown. Will my loved one get better? How will I live without them? What lies ahead for me? For us?  It can be lonely and scary, but life can also become laser-focused. We take stock of what really matters. We rally with family and friends.

Channeling our energy into doing something, anything, can help tremendously.

Mom’s battle with cancer was difficult on so many fronts. I wouldn’t wish that experience on anyone. I found myself wanting to help but feeling like there was little I could do. Living three provinces away only increased my feelings of inadequacy. We chatted on the phone and my family and I made visits as we were able, but Mom and Dad walked much of the journey on their own, together.

One small thing I did do was make a donation to a cancer care charity. I had given to cancer related-charities before, but this was the first time I had donated with someone specific in mind. Sure, I knew that my modest gift wasn’t going to cure my mother, nor would it directly reduce her suffering, but this small act of generosity connected us by allowing me to turn my grief and feelings of inadequacy into meaningful action.

Giving in honour of Mom held the promise of helping another family facing the same situation. In a small way, it provided hope. Hope that someday there might be a cure. Hope that others will not have to go through the fear and suffering and pain that comes with treatment or watching a loved one go through it. Giving helped me look beyond my own situation and channel my experience – Mom’s experience – into hope and opportunity for someone else.

My mother lost her battle with cancer in the fall of 2010. And yet, I have continued to give money to cancer care and research. I don’t give every year because there are many other causes I like to support, but when I do, it is a special way to remember Mom and to offer hope for others. These gifts are a tangible way for me to feel connected to her, honour her memory, and recognize the impact she had in my life.

Giving to charity in honour of a loved one or in their memory need not be lavish, just heartfelt. If you haven’t already done so, I encourage you to give it a try. You might be surprised at the unexpected comfort, connection, and hope you get in return.

Contributed by Darren Pries-Klassen, CEO

[1] Canadian Cancer Statistics Advisory Committee. Canadian Cancer Statistics 2018. Toronto, ON: Canadian Cancer Society; 2018. Available at: (accessed October 31, 2018).

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