Caring for Karen

Hello everyone,

Introduction and Backstory:

Allow me to introduce my friend Karen, many of you who will see this post will already know who she is: caring nurse, fiesty fiery redhead ready for any geocaching adventure, mother to two amazing teen boys and to recently adopted feline fur babies (don't get her started on cats). 

This picture shows our adventure-loving, crazy humoured "Honey Badger" perching at Screaming Heads in Burk's Falls, ON. She looks happy and healthy here (which is how we want her to be).

Unfortunately, just before Christmas, my dear friend was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer that has already spread to her bones via spine and pelvis. As much as she is a fighter and wants to beat this, the reality is that it is taking every ounce of energy from Karen herself, her husband Mark, and their two boys, William and Robert.

Just before diagnosis Karen was celebrating finally achieving her RN (Registered Nurse) designation, and had just been hired at a new hospital. She wasn't able to really start her job and of course would not be able to qualify or access any long-term benefits so early in the probation period. Unfortunately she had to let go of the dream of having that job, or any income that would be needed to support her healing process (she is not eligible for ODSP), or help her family as she goes through this gruelling fight, especially since, like most families, they had been relying heavily on two incomes. 

Current status: 

These days my friend is having a great deal of struggle to have enough energy to take a shower, grab a bite to eat (digest even), is using a rollator to get around (not recommended for stairs by the way), and cannot do the usual things she used to be able to do to even take care of herself at a minimal level.

Karen has a hard time reaching out. She has only just recently gotten the energy up to send friends and family a detailed announcement and plea for any sort of help.

How can you help?

I'm in another city at quite a distance, so my help will come in the form of setting up this Go Fund Me account to help offset even part of the loss of her salary for the next year. I will also be staying in close touch via text to let her know I'm able to sit with her, whether she needs to cry, be angry, or laugh. I will be sending funny gifs and memes as per her request for levity. I will be putting together a care package and contributing to this fund when I can. I say all of this because there are so many ways to be able to help Karen and her family, and there is no way that is too small. 

For those of you who know, or don't know Karen personally, and want to be able to contribute financially to help someone that has devoted her life to helping others heal (think: you or your loved ones in the hospital), whose time for her own healing has come- that would be tremendously appreciated. 

For those of you who know Karen and her family, who live in the neighborhood or close by, any type of support would be appreciated, they are open to:

-gas cards (Canadian Tire, PetroCanada) to help with transportation to and from the hospital for appointments, 

-grocery store cards for food and miscellaneous care items (Zehrs, Metro, No Frills, Food Basics,  Costco, Walmart)

-volunteers to drive to and from the hospital in Kitchener- Waterloo for appointments, 

-gluten free meals, or the hiring of a service that could provide such for a week or whatever increment works

-assistance with cleaning (30 minutes to pass a vaccuum, clean the litter box and feed the kitties, laundry etc)

-visits, especially those that involve getting Karen out of the house for a tea and chat

-someone who could organize a roster of volunteers for meals/cleaning/visits/drives

-texts, fb messenger chats, (phone calls may be too much, texting is much more doable)

-someone to organize a collection of above gifts cards and any coupons to deliver to the family, even smaller amounts of $5 & $10 cards add up

- sending funny gifs or memes, sharing a funny story

-for those of you with event planning in your blood: a fundraising event in the community 

-any healers among you? Perhaps a free treatment (Reiki, massage, essential oils, reflexology, holistic nutritionist) in exchange for an authentic testimonial

Anything and everything counts so please help in the way that best fits who you are and how you can most realistically help. We are all stretched for energy and time and feel like we want to do things we actually can't, or hold back from doing the things we can because we think it's not enough or it doesn't matter. 

Well it does matter, and will be greatfully appreciated and received, even if Karen doesn't have the energy to actually reach out, she is desperately wanting whatever family and friend connection and support and other types of support that she can get. 

Thank you all for being there,
A dear friend
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Organizer and beneficiary

Cheryl Cote 
Ottawa, ON
Karen Anne 
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