Never Alone. What a great thought. Isn’t loneliness one of our most feared feelings? Wilson and that other guy tried very hard to get off that deserted island. And prisoners get ‘solitary’ when they’ve been extra bad. No one wants to be alone for very long. That’s why Never Alone Foundation is so aptly named.
For those that don’t know, Never Alone Foundation is a Winnipeg non-profit serving people affected by cancer. The inspiration for Never Alone was CFL great Lyle Bauer. Lyle was diagnosed with stage four throat cancer in 2004. He will tell you that, even though he had a significant support network of family, friends, and colleagues, he never felt more alone.
Treatment for most types of cancer is difficult and throat cancer seems just a bit more so. You can’t eat for weeks. In most cases you have a feeding tube inserted in your stomach so you can get pain and nausea medication in your system as well as an occasional liquid meal replacement. It gets worse, but let’s just say it is a very challenging process.
Once Lyle got through treatment and began the recovery process, he and a few close friends drafted a plan for what would become Never Alone Foundation. He wanted to help cancer patients, regardless of their diagnosis, navigate the treacherous journey he had taken. He wanted them to be more comfortable, feel less anxious and less alone. Never Alone Foundation was born.
There are many good community organizations doing great work. Never Alone seems different. Almost all of the funding goes to programs. The two full-time staff are overworked and under compensated – by their choice. Sure, every organization would say the same thing, but if you were to visit Canada Revenue Agency’s website and take a look at a few tax returns, the difference would be apparent. And then there are the clients – the people who are helped by Never Alone – some directly, some through other foundations. These are people that have been unable to find comfort through the provincial healthcare system. One example: Let’s say you’ve just been diagnosed with some form of oral cancer and before you can start treatment you need to have some or all of your teeth extracted (yes, it happens). Now, let’s say you have successfully completed chemo and radiation and it went very well and you are on the road to recovery and ready to get back to eating like you used to. Guess what? Prostheses (dentures, implants) are not covered by any provincial health plan. In other words, if you don’t have good private insurance or financial means, you will be eating all of your meals through a straw. Most people are surprised by this bit of enlightenment. Think about that for a minute – all of your meals through a straw. There are lots of other examples.
We have great healthcare in this country and province, but there are many holes to be filled. And filling those holes so people with cancer and their families are more comfortable, less anxious and, perhaps most important, feel less alone, is what drives Never Alone Foundation. Our community of cancer patients would be a much different place without Lyle Bauer and Never Alone Foundation.