Jill's cancer surgery in Cuba

Sometimes we all need a little help from our friends. And sometimes even from people we haven’t met yet. Please read along to meet Jill and learn her story. (and scroll down to the end for some pics) And please share this, thanks so much!

In 2006, my friend Jill Brathwaite was working in what she thought was her dream job as a Paramedic with a specialty in Cardiology, saving as many lives as she possibly could. She really loved the patients, but not the job itself and ultimately she got very sick and had to stop working. After months of invasive testing she learned she had stomach cancer. She took the next step which was a long surgery, oly to be told afterwards that the tumour was too big to remove, and so nothing more could be done. Jill was advised to go home and get her paperwork in order because she didn’t have long to live.

The doctors severely underestimated the will-to-live of this single mom with two young children who she didn’t want to abandon. Dying just wasn't an option.

Luckily her surgeon introduced her to a Cancer Doctor in Cuba who offered her an unconventional option -- Blue Scorpion venom treatment. This unusual, and very expensive methodology worked to shrink the tumour to where it could finally be operated on. Jill got lucky -- After 8 years of treatment every 3 months for 5 weeks, as well as 2 surgeries, she got the good news that she was cancer free!!  The only downside was that by then, she was completely out of money because she had to pay for all this medical care in Cuba out of her own money. (She sold her house to fund it all)

Jill and her two (now teenaged) daughters returned to Toronto in June 2015. Unfortunately, around 18 months later, she found out the cancer was back, again considered unoperable here in Canada. (but not in Cuba, so she's heading back for more treatment.) Her daughters are still young and need their mother and they are the reason she wants to fight this again and get more time with her children.

In October 2015 Jill switched careers and started dog walking for a living, taking other people’s dogs along with her own two. Unlike her cardiology career, she absolutely loves this and finds great joy in it. She can usually be found at the Cherry Beach dog park in Toronto, which is where she and I first met not long after her return to Toronto. It didn’t take long for me to realize she was very down-to-earth, devoted to the dogs and their care, and wanting to help out in the park anyway she could. She was a great addition to the local dog walking and park communities.

Unfortunately, it seems Jill just can’t catch a break. Right before she got the news about the cancer’s return, she was accidentally knocked down by one of her client dogs and shattered her right forearm. The terrible break wasn’t set properly and ended up causing Jill a lot of pain for weeks and weeks. Yet despite being in severe pain with the arm, and also unable to eat solids because of the cancer, Jill still got up everyday and did her job.

I’m a dog walker too, and I can tell you it’s hard enough being a dog walker with two functioning arms and no pain! I honestly don’t know how she did it, for months on end. Occasionally one of her daughters would come along to help her out, but more often than not, Jill was solo and had to muster up the strength to work past the pain, using just her non-dominant arm! It’s been months now since the break, and Jill also has to face surgery to re-fix the arm, but this surgery is thankfully covered by our provincial health care plan.

Present time. Jill is running out of options. As well as out of time. Her window for the surgery is only 6 months or it will be too late. And she needs to raise $35,000 for this surgery IN CUBA that will save her life. (The doctors here won't help her) Dog walkers don’t make a huge salary but she’s been trying to save best she can, but living here in Toronto and raising teenage girls isn’t cheap. So that’s where I stepped in, to help her raise the money that will save her life and allow her girls to have a mom for a while longer.

I want to point out that Jill never asked me (or anyone else) for help, she isn’t that kind of person. She is the type of person who is willing to help anyone else out anyway she can, despite what is going on in her own life. She never complains about her situation, which amazes me. I only know about it because one day recently, she seemed a little down, so I asked what was going on. Even then, it took some prodding on my part to get her to open up about the cancer and the uphill battle she was facing.

So if you have a few extra pennies or dollars around, please consider donating them to help Jill and her family. I can state unequivocally that there is not a more deserving person to receive your help. This really is a life or death situation, and while I am determined to help her, I don’t have $35000 to give her, I wish I did. Every little bit really does help though and it starts to add up quickly.

We’ve all heard of fundraising scams, and no one wants to get caught in one of these. So if you’d like further proof of this being legitimate, please feel free to email me [email redacted] and I’ll get you whatever info you need.

And also please share this. It would only take 3500 people donating $10 each to make this happen! (or 350 people donating $100 etc)

So on behalf of Jill, thanks in advance for your help. And may you and your loved ones never have to face a situation like this yourself!Stacey (left) and Jill (right)
Jill with Cinnamon, a client dog.
Jill, one funky Mama!


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Stacey Grieve 
Toronto, ON
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