Donation Stories - People who have helped!

Cindy Gorrill

Cindy is a cancer survivor and was kind enough to send the Foundation a letter speaking about her journey.

March is Colon Cancer Awareness Month! And as such I’d like to share my story.

I was diagnosed with colon cancer in January 2020 and had my colon resection surgery one month later in February at the Swift Current Cypress Regional Hospital. I then required chemotherapy starting in May.

My first treatment was at the Allan Blair Centre in Regina and I inquired whether the remaining 11 treatments would be able to be taken in Swift Current. I was advised that the chemo I required was not available at the Swift Current Oncology Unit. However, by the end of my four-hour session, it was learned that Swift Current had just recently been granted permission to be able to administer the chemo I needed. I was so happy to be able to continue with treatment every two weeks just driving to Swift Current instead of Regina! It saved my husband and myself many hours of travel, many dollars of gas money, and many hours of emotional fatigue not having to drive to Regina!

Those six months of chemo were certainly made easier by the wonderful staff of the oncology unit, namely Joan and Melissa. Their professionalism, care and compassion were absolutely top notch! And made what is normally such an awful experience a more tolerable one. They were awesome not only in giving me my chemo but also taking my blood every two weeks the day before my treatments. And for this I am forever grateful.

I am also very thankful and appreciative for Dr. Ghori’s amazing surgical skills and professionalism; and the post-surgery care I received from the medical surgery unit during my stay there. I was looked after so well. I would also like to thank the Home Care Unit for removing my home chemo infusion pump two days following each treatment.

Again, thank you for the wonderful care I have received over the last 14 months from the staff of the Swift Current Cypress Regional Hospital.

Richmound Stretcher

Richmound is a small community west of Fox Valley. The Mayor Brad Miller reached out to the Foundation for help with fundraising for a power stretcher for the Richmound EMS team, which his wife Arlene is a part of.

“My name is Arlene and my husband Brad is the Mayor of Richmound where our Richmound EMS team is stationed. We are a team of 4 ladies and Brad must have heard me complain one to many times about how hard it is getting to do manual lifting as statistically our clients are getting heavier, so he started asking around if we could get local support to get a power stretcher. We do a lot of transfers with clients who are not able to bear their weight and the older I get the harder it was for me, I won’t speak for the other ladies. With our manual stretcher it was a one person lift into the ambulance because one of us had to lift up the legs as the other one lifted the full weight. With this new power stretcher we can do a two person lift because the legs fold up with the press of a button. We are so grateful for all the monetary support we have received from our community as well as our neighbouring RM’s we could not have got it otherwise. Thank You as well to Dr Irwin Noble Foundation for your support, greatly appreciated!”

Brian Knight

In October 2020 we had the pleasure of speaking with Brian Knight, a dedicated supporter of the Dr. Noble Irwin Foundation. We asked him what it was about the Foundation that made him donate year after year, he had the following answer.

“It’s very important, I am a senior now, but a very active senior and I donate every chance I get when they have a fundraiser. The facility is one of the best hospitals around and we have to always improve and upgrade and update like you do with everything, but it’s there for our area and a bigger surrounding area for everything we need for examinations or doctor appointments or whatever it may be can be handled by the Swift Current hospital (Cypress Regional Hospital) and save us those long trips to Regina or Saskatoon.”

We also spoke about all the updates in technology that have been happening as of late and how that is affecting the healthcare industry.

“…the technology is always becoming better and more elaborate, we got to keep up with the times. I’m not one that does a lot of cell phone or computer stuff, I’m not into that at my age, but I know how important it is for medical equipment and research for health reasons.”

Brain left us with some final thoughts.

“Don’t hesitate to donate, it’s your life it’s your health it’s family, it’s community, it’s friends and it’s there for us all and we can only keep it bigger and better by promoting, funding and supporting it.”

Thank you Brian for sharing you thoughts with us and your outstanding support throughout the years, we truly appreciate it.

Ron Heeg

Ron Heeg has not only been a life-long supporter of the Dr. Noble Irwin Regional Healthcare Foundation, he also one of the original board members. Ron is always heavily involved with the annual Radiothon. He spoke about this during our conversation in October 2020.

“I usually go out and answer the phone with the Pharmasave staff and even since I’ve retired, I continue to go along with them and help answer the phone and give them some support.”

On what keeps him coming back year after year, Ron had this to say.

“Well the Dr. Noble Irwin Healthcare Foundation is very important for me, I was on the original board and the money that is raised is of course helping the health of the people of Southwest Saskatchewan which is very important to me as I’ve been involved with healthcare mostly all my life and a lot of my family has to. The funds that are acquired are so important for equipment not only for the Regional Hospital but also for the outlying hospitals in the southwest. I urge people to support this foundation Because it serves our most useful purpose.”

While speaking about his history with the Foundation Ron said the following.

“I urge the people to support this project because the Foundation is a very very worthwhile organization in our healthcare system. I can remember when I first started on board at the Foundation it was Dr. Banks that suggested the name of calling it the Dr. Noble Irwin Foundation because of Dr. Noble Irwin’s dedication to his medical practice in the city of Swift Current.”

We thank Ron for taking the time to speak with us and his his continuous support.

Harold Thiessen

Harold Thieseen has been a long time supporter of the Dr. Noble Irwin Regional Healthcare Foundation. We were able to have a conversation with him this October where he shared the reason behind his support.

“We always need healthcare it is an important aspect of our life and we’ve used it quite extensively over the years as well. I feel that the city and surrounding community have made use of the funds and we appreciate the work that they are doing, and I make it a point to support them. ”

Harold also spoke about how important the Cypress Regional Hospital is, not just for the residents of Swift Current, but the surrounding communities as well.

“I think it is a local resource we have here because we want to utilize the local forms as much as possible for an economic reason as well we would like to see that anyone possible will utilize it. This is much closer driving distance for the communities around here as well to use it whenever they possibly can.”

We can’t thank Harold enough for the support that he had show throughout the years.

Luann Schultz

In 2019 the Dr. Noble Irwin Regional Healthcare Foundation hosted a Kick-Off Breakfast for the Close to the Heart Digital Mammogram Campaign. We invited  breast cancer survivors to speak on the importance of early detection and to share their journey with us. Luann Schultz was kind enough to share her story to raise awareness and help in raising funds for a new Digital Mammography Machine.

“For those of you who know me, know that I love to tell a story. You get a letter in the mail and it says “Call at your earliest convenience” since when is having a mammogram convenient? I almost missed my appointment, January 31st, 2018. When I got there the technician was so efficient and her hands were warm, I was sweating and ungrateful for the pressure on my breasts. It was almost finished when she said “Let’s get a better picture of the left side. All done.” I quickly cover up feeling modest. She asks me to wait for a bit, they would look at the pictures before I left. I stared at the walls “come on people I’ve got things to do”, I’m like a racehorse trying to get out of the gate. She came in, she smiled and said that I could get dressed. I thanked her and I left, that was Wednesday around lunch. Back to my life, I had company it was Friday morning, and we went shopping. My phone rang and it was an unfamiliar number and I though telemarketer I answered and a woman with a kind, calm voice told me who she was, and my hands started to feel cold, she asked me if I was alone, and I couldn’t feel my legs. She asked me if I could come to Regina on Thursday and she told me to write some stuff down. Kerri-Ann called her back, the mammogram had shown something on the left breast, I had to go to the breast assessment department. I kept telling myself to be calm, and I prayed to be calm, another mammogram, another ultrasound WOW I thought, they are being thorough. Now they would like to do a biopsy ‘what? Am I awake for this?’ “yes, you better go get Kerri-Ann”. She came, she held my hand and she talked me through it, “Wow a biopsy, this is getting real, really fast”.

They sent me home to wait, and two weeks later I go to see my family doctor who I love and respect. He met my gaze and he said, “You are on a journey” and I don’t remember much after that. Ron and Kerri-Ann asked questions through tears and I let the word ‘Cancer’ enter my protective shell. The word ‘cancer’ impaled me, it tore through all my layers of denial, I prayed for strength. That appointment on January 31st saved my life. A lot happens in a short amount of time; appointments, new faces, new terms, new tests, surgery, new infection but my held close and fast. People would say “I’m so sorry this is happening to you” and I wanted to shout, “It’s happening to Cordel and Janet and Kerri-Ann and Jordan and Jackson and Grace and Violet and Logan, they are all on this rollercoaster with me.”

I was terrified of Chemotherapy, I would wake up in a cold sweat ‘No Chemo, no chemo’. My oncologist told me of a new test, they would send my tumor to California and if it tested at a certain range, no chemo. With all my health issues I knew that chemo would be so damaging, all results said it was early all my prayers were answered, I was fortunate not to have chemotherapy. We wore the highway out between Regina and Swift Current, everything went like clockwork, every appointment, every radiation treatment Ron bless his heart drove me back and forth every day. I could heal in my own bed, still be part of my life and home, we sang rock and roll, and old country and we ate the snacks that I packed for us every day. On my December appointment at the Allen Blair Cancer Clinic the doctor asked me how many times a do I think about cancer? I said, “Everyday”, she said “Everyday?” and I said, “Every time I take that pill for cancer” she said “Luann, when you take that pill every day you tell yourself ‘today I don’t have cancer’”.

I am grateful for my surgeon, my family and the research that had helped people like me be a survivor. Early detection is key, and that’s why I am here today, get checked. Be inconvenienced, be modest, be shy, be mad, be diligent but be grateful. Swift Current will have the proper equipment and trained technicians and that my friends is a game changer. Thank you to my family and friends and thank you for all the prayers, I felt them all. God Bless.

Thank you Luann for sharing you story and helping us raise funds for a new Digital Mammography Machine.

Sue Johnson

In 2019 the Dr. Noble Irwin Regional Healthcare Foundation hosted a Kick-Off Breakfast for the Close to the Heart Digital Mammogram Campaign. We invited Sue Johnson, a breast cancer survivor to speak on the importance of early detection and to share her journey with us. Sue this to share:

“This is really emotional for me; I realize that it brought back lots of feelings for me. I am just going to have to take a deep breath and share my journey with you. I want to start by saying that I am Sue Johnson, and I am a Cancer survivor. I want to say good morning and I want to thank everyone for being here this morning it’s such an important event. I want to thank Jim Dekowny, and the Dr. Noble Irwin Healthcare Foundation for having us here today. When Jim left a message on my phone, he had mentioned that they were having a fundraiser and organizing an event and they wanted some people to be part of it and have our opinion and he said it might be something that was close to my heart and that it might be something that I was passionate about and if I was interested in helping just to get back to him. It didn’t take me long to phone him back and let him know that this is definitely something that is very close to my heart, something I’m very passionate about. Ever since I had my cancer diagnosis anytime anyone asked me a question, I was willing to answer it and just talk about it, so that’s what I’m here for today.

If you had asked me six years ago if I would be diagnosed with breast cancer, my answer was no. I have no family history, I have no risk factors, I was healthy and I was active. Would I do know is that cancer doesn’t discriminate, it doesn’t matter what type of cancer it is. I do know that the earlier that they can catch cancer, detect cancer in the earlier stages, the better the prognosis, maybe less treatment and the better that you may do in your journey with cancer. I was diagnosed with cancer in the fall of 2014, they found cancer in both of my breasts. In the winter and spring of 2015, I had my surgery, I had both of my breasts removed and I went through four rounds of chemotherapy. I considered myself to be extremely lucky to have only four rounds, I have talked to people that had six; I have talked to people who had both chemo and radiation. I also consider myself to be really lucky in the fact that I had realistically other than the loss of my hair due to alopecia, no side effects or very few side effects from the chemotherapy. I bounced back over the years and I’m back to my life and I enjoy myself every day.

People asked me how did you discover the cancer? How did you find it? Did you find a lump? Were you not feeling well? My answer is simple, when I turned 50, I received that same letter about screening for breast cancer. Mammography wasn’t new to me, I had my first mammography in my early 20’s, I had cystic breast (lumpy breasts). I was lucky for the rest of the time, until about 2009 I never had any issues, then in 2009 I felt a lump being diligent and being a healthcare professional, I went into my physician and she sent me for mammography and at that same time, they did an ultrasound. Anybody that hasn’t been through any kind of screening you’ll learn that everybody is different, it’s very individual, but I had the mammography, and I had the ultrasound done that same day. I sat there looking in my gown, at the walls waiting and they brought me back for the ultrasound and when I saw my physician, she said that they have seen something, “your lump” and they want to watch it. I called it a ‘watch’, so for that whole year they watched it and at the end of the year it was fine, I was given a clean bill of health and I went on about my life.

When that letter came when I was 50, I had no qualms about it, I made my appointment, and I went, and I had the mammography done then I waited, and they called me back for an ultrasound. Right away in my mind I knew that they had seen something, when I went in to see my physician, she’d said that “yes they had”, I pretty much knew they had like I said because of the ultrasound. What she said was that they needed to watch it, so I had that screening and at six months I went back, and when I went back to see my doctor again, she said “They are going to watch you again and if they see something, if what’s there hasn’t changed or resolved by a year, you’ll have to go for a biopsy.” When I went in to make my appointment for the mammography with my physician, she said “You know what we are just going to send you to Regina to have the mammography and do the biopsy there” because it’s like a one-stop shop. Being as positive as I am because I’m a very positive person, I hoped in the truck on my own and I took off and I went and I had the biopsy done, well the mammography and the ultrasound and then they said that you need the biopsy, so I had the biopsy done and I left, and I came back, and I told my husband and we actually ended up going on a trip that year. Three days after my biopsy we went on our trip and three days after we came back from our three-week vacation, I saw my physician and right up to that morning Keith kept saying to me “I’ll come with you for the results if you want” and I said, “No, I’m fine, I’m fine”. That morning he said to me “I’ve booked the morning off so if you want to come, I’ll come” and I said, “you know maybe you should” and thank god he did. When we got there my physician the same always supportive all the time said to me “You have cancer” and it does it gits you like a brick wall and it changes your life. For me, life has been good since then, the toughest part for me I’ve found was sharing it with my family, my kids, my friends, but I did find the more I talked about it the better I felt about it.

What I know for certain is that had I not gone in for that screening at that time, I would not have had that mammography done, and they would not have found that cancer in my one breast. I know for certain in my heart that the cancer, invasive cancer that I had in the other breast, the staging would have been much different if I had more time without being diagnosed, without being screened. I know that this (mammography close to the heart campaign) is extremely close to my heart, I am very passionate about it and I know that early detection is just so important in that staging, treatment, and prognosis of how you can manage and how your journey might be with cancer.

That is my story and I just want to thank you all for being here and thank you for your support. Be diligent, don’t be shy, if you have a lump get it checked out don’t sit on it the sooner that you get in and the sooner you get things checked out the better things may be. Life is good and it continues to be good. With that, I just want to thank you.”

Thank you Sue for sharing your experience.

Wendy Gunderson

In mid June 2018 we received the following from Wendy Gunderson in a letter:

“Dr. Noble Irwin Foundation

I am enclosing a cheque for the sum of $100 in appreciation for the service I received at Swift Current Hospital a couple of weeks ago.

I received an echo cardiogram at that time and I want to let you know that I received excellent care from the admitting desk onward. Everyone I met treated me with respect and kindness. Not only that but all the staff seemed happy with their job and glad to be of service.

I would like my donation to be used for any current medical imaging equipment funding programs you may have in place. If not equipment then perhaps things to make the staff jobs easier?

I appreciate the care provided to the rural areas and am glad I am able to donate to such a worthy cause as your foundation.

Sincerely,

Wendy Gunderson
Kyle, Sask.”

Wendy’s donation will be put to use for the new portable x-ray machine that we are looking to fund. Please consider joining Wendy and supporting this purchase.

The Plewis Family

The Plewis name has been synonymous with business in Swift Current and Southwest Saskatchewan for decades. It started off with L.E. Plewis who was affectionately known as ‘Barney.’ He had a trucking and bulk fuel business in Pennant. In 1940 he moved his family to Swift Current and bought Standard Motors, a GM dealership that has been in existence since 1910.

Barney’s son, Leon, joined his dad when he returned from serving his country overseas in World War II.

Leon and his brother Morris bought the Dealership from Barney in 1956, and in 1980, Jim bought the Dealership from dad Leon and his uncle Morris. He ran the Dealership on his own until 2014. Jim’s sons Ryan and Mark are now the fourth generation of the Plewis family to own and operate Standard Motors.

A good business sense was not the only thing that was passed down from generation to generation. As a young boy, Jim learned from his grandpa, Barney, and his dad, Leon, the importance of giving back to his community…… to ‘give where you live’. Our family has called Swift Current home for 5 generations and it is here that we continue to live, work and play.

This donation to the Meadows long-term care facility is a good fit for Pam and Jim. Pam worked her entire professional career as a Registered Nurse in Swift Current. She recognized the need for a place that would meet the needs of our long-term care population while treating them with dignity and respect. A place they can call home.

We believe to whom much is given, much is required. As a family, we feel honoured and blessed to have a hand in building the Meadows.

Dave & Edna Heinrichs Family Duane & Bev Smith Family

We dedicate our donation to the Prairie Pioneer Women whose role in the kitchen supported the growth and development of the Southwest. This role was critical and yet so unrecognized. We hope those who enjoy the meals prepared in these kitchens can feel the gratitude we wish to show these women for their selfless contributions to the Prairie family.

The Heinrichs and Smith families donation has helped to equip kitchens in The Meadows – long-term care.