Saint John is a small community with a huge heart. I feel very blessed to be able to support this amazing program and give back to my community. - Clare Smith
In Memory of Al – Clare’s Donor Story
Clare Smith remembers her husband, Al, as a healthy, young retiree.
In fact, in April 2019 they were spending some time traveling and sightseeing. But on May 9th, 2019, their entire world changed.
“Al received a diagnosis of a rare form of cancer,” Clare recalled. “It was stage four bile duct cancer.”
A diagnosis of bile duct cancer is terminal, and for a person as active and on the go as Al, it was a humbling and scary diagnosis.
The couple’s anniversary was on the 10th and Al’s birthday was on the 16th. As Clare recalls, it was “quite a ride”.
They hoped maybe there were treatment options to extend the amount of time that Al had left with his family and friends, but unfortunately, the cancer was progressing too quickly.
Shortly after his diagnosis, Al was moved to palliative care at the Regional. And it was there, that he received the exceptional care for which he, and Clare, were so grateful.
“The care was incredible. He rallied a little bit, because of the support he received and there were meds that he was put on to help manage and cope, Clare recalls. “It allowed him a couple of visits to the cottage, and we were grateful for that.”
When it came to the healthcare staff, including the nurses and physicians who supported them through that cancer journey, Clare couldn’t have asked for more.
“As good as that experience can be, they made it better…they were the kindest people I’ve ever met.”
Exceptional Care Inspires Passion
While Al lost his battle with cancer, not everyone does. And for Clare, that is a driving factor as to why she was drawn to and feels so passionately about supporting the Stay Strong Cancer Survivorship program.
“You know, Al’s cancer diagnosis was truly devastating. Yet there is a flip side to this story. Many are luckier than Al. They face tremendous hurdles but fight this horrible disease and become cancer survivors,” says Clare.
The Stay Strong Cancer Survivorship program supports people surviving cancer and their families, friends, and caregivers as they transition back to ‘regular’ life after cancer.
"The program is an amazing way for people to regain their strength emotionally & physically. To move forward with dignity and hope to the next phase of their lives,” says Clare.
Clare truly believes that if Al had beaten his cancer, he would have enthusiastically joined Stay Strong and benefited greatly from the program.
“My greatest wish in life is for Al to have had a chance to participate. To be well again,” she says.
Clare has chosen to support the Stay Strong program because she is “absolutely certain my brave husband would have wanted others to benefit from this great resource.”
Clare made her first gift of $10,000 to the Stay Strong Cancer Survivorship Program back in December 2021. She has since continued to give in support of the program and the great work that it does to support cancer survivors.
“That’s why I decided to support the program, both on a corporate and personal level.”
Inspired by the generosity of amazing community organizations, Clare says “it’s wonderful to live in a small community where the support of local business directly impacts those around us.”
She hopes others will be inspired to give and support cancer survivors who she says are “strong, brave heroes that deserve every opportunity to move forward and rebuild their futures. They deserve to live their best lives.”
You can support local cancer survivors on their journey to wellness,
with personalized care and support post-treatment.