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Three time cancer survivor, Jackie Herbst experienced first-hand the difference community support has made at RVH.

I never imagined just how much I would come to appreciate the value of having the best technology and outstanding care close to
home until I personally needed it when I was diagnosed with cancer.

My journey as a cancer patient started five years ago. At first, I hadn’t thought much of the stomach issues I was having – after all, I’d had a normal colonoscopy quite recently, I was a triathlete and I’d always been in great shape. But as my symptoms worsened, I was certain something wasn’t right.

One night I began bleeding and it just wouldn't stop. My husband, Mark, took me straight to my local hospital, Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre (RVH). A CT scan revealed our worst fears: a tumour had attached itself to my bowel.

It was a frightening diagnosis. My medical team – emergency doctors, oncologists and radiologists – worked tirelessly to diagnose what they were seeing. It turned out to be a rare
 cancer that had actually started as cervical cancer, but showed up as a tumour in my bowel.

Because the tumour was quite advanced, medical teams needed to intervene right away. Everything was happening so fast, but the communication from my doctors, nurses and diagnostic imaging specialists was incredible. With each new development in my treatment, I was kept in the loop about what would happen next, and why.

Everyone cared for me with such compassion and kindness – it made an incredible difference at a stressful time. They felt like extended family.

I underwent chemotherapy and radiation, hoping to eliminate the cancer. And, for a year, I was cancer-free.

Then, more distressing news. The bleeding returned. Cancer cells were recurring in the same area, spreading to my cervix. The only option was to undergo a complex, lengthy surgery to remove all of the cells.

The operation would require surgeons in urology, orthopedics, plastic and general surgery to work on me at different points throughout the procedure. Having so many different specialists together in one operating room meant this time I did have to travel to Toronto.

Surgery day was a long one for everyone involved. Over the course of 21 hours, my anatomy was basically rebuilt. Urologists removed my bladder. Orthopedic surgeons removed the lower portion of my spine. Then plastic surgeons stretched part of my abdominal muscle around to fill the newly formed gap in my backside.

Waking up in the Intensive Care Unit after surgery was rough. I was so relieved to see my husband, Mark there at my bedside. For the next month, as I recovered in hospital, being so far from home meant my family couldn't be there as often as they - and I - wanted.

The staff in Toronto were professional and competent. I’m grateful that they were able to perform the surgery that likely saved my life. But the nurses weren’t my nurses; the ones who had taken such good care of me at RVH. Nothing about the hospital or the city was familiar, and the distance from home felt like a heavy weight.

I realized how hard it is for patients who don't have loved ones nearby. Mark stayed with me for as long as he could, but before too long he had to return to work. It was so hard on him, going back and forth to visit me every day, but he did it.

W
e were exhausted.

It was such a relief to return home. The first thing I started was a plan to regain my strength. Removing the bottom part of my spine caused serious damage through my legs. I ended up with a limp on one side, but I was determined to stay active and get strong again.

Last year, during routine follow-up imaging, a cancerous lymph node was discovered in my chest. I underwent a second, very different round of radiation.

We were able to treat it with high dose, pinpointed radiation in an attempt to rid me of cancer once and for all. Our local radiation program was made possible by generous donors who helped expand the cancer centre in 2012. As you can imagine, I was so thankful that I could stay in my community and receive excellent healthcare right here.

I’m also thankful that my regional health centre has such caring supporters like you, who understand that leading-edge technology is only possible through your donations.

You can change lives – like mine – by bringing world-class equipment to our own community.

At this special time of the year, will you consider giving generously to RVH?

Your gift will fund vital diagnostic imaging equipment that patients like me rely on every day. And by giving today during the holiday season, you’ll have twice the impact, thanks to a generous offer from kind donors in our community who will match every donation made before the end of the year!

I learned through my diagnosis that cancer doesn’t always present itself how we would expect. The team at RVH worked to make sense of my rare condition. I can't imagine what my out come would have been if they didn't have access to top-quality equipment to help them solve my cancer puzzle.

At a time of year when families treasure spending time together, this is a wonderful way to show you care.

With gratitude,

Jackie Herbst, former RVH patient

This holiday season we invite you to reflect on the impact you can have right now for patients like Jackie to receive care closer to home. 

Your donation made today will have twice the impact thanks to generous donors in our community who will match every donation made. 

How to Help
Whether it's a large corporate pledge to upgrade our facilities or a personal gift in memory of a loved one, every donation is a valued contribution, and helps to provide better care and comfort for the patients of our community. 

You can designate your gift to specific equipment, or to a particular department or you can give to the area where the need is most urgent. The Foundation accepts cash donations, VISA, MasterCard, AMEX, cheque or money order. 

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Note: when entering credit card numbers spaces between numbers will result in an error message. If problems persist please contact us at (705) 739-5600. 

Make your donation by phone
To make a donation by phone, please call (705) 739-5600. Our office is open between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.