Wednesday, 2 July 2014

A New Chapter

As most of you may be aware I have stepped down as the president of Forever Friends. One of our other board members, Elizabeth Fries, has stepped down as well.

My health has not been well enough to continue on with FFOH but my heart will always be with it. Alison Poelen is the President now.

Even though I am not officially on the board now, I will continue to help in any way I can. These means helping with donations, the web page and of course the blog. I will hope to feature some of the other board members on the blog in order to keep it very current. Keep checking back and hopefully you can help out sometime too!

Here is to another successful year for FFOH!
Danah Hysuick

Saturday, 22 March 2014

What I wish I could have said

(I had my speech ready but was too sick to actually go and deliver it this evening.  This is what I would have said.)

Good Evening Everybody
Wow what a colorful bunch!  
I was really curious to see how many of the ladies there tonight, also attended our first auction in 2002.
I was going to ask who was in kindergarden or grade one then and who is old enough to attend now.  

We have had a fantastic run.  We have given away over 120,000.00 dollars to our applicants. Almost every single cent raised tonight goes directly into the hands of women and their families that need it. I thank you all for entrusting us with the responsibility of ensuring this happens.

When we get an application, we have to do several things. 
We have to remove all judgment and stick to only the facts on paper. Long ago we decided to help people financially.  It is easy to measure success and less sticky than emotion. We are not in the business of healing. We have to remove our bias and judgement about how much a house cost or how much people pay for cable. That is not our place. We look only at the numbers.  

I am not going to tell a woman that is driving alone from Yorkton to Regina for chemo everyday in the winter that maybe she should cancel her cell phone. Her MLA did, when she went to him for help.  I didn't. 

We also need to make sure the applicant's privacy is very protected.  Only three of us ever know an applicant's name or where she lives.  After that, they are assigned a number and that is the only way that we refer to them.  This also helps us remain unbiased.  

 We also compare her to ourselves. Cancer can grow very quickly.  So you buy a travel trailer today.  Three days later you find a lump in your breast. You see, what I mean. Life changes on a dime. I have found that by comparing her to ourselves it is easier to remove judgement and just help where we can.

Ken, our lovely auctioneer tonight, was teasing me last night asking how I got wrapped up in this.  So for anyone who doesn't know, here goes. (PS This was also when I was going to encourage our guests to drink more because Ken and the rest of the guys look better after that! Kidding of course! Ken's pretty good  looking already :) (Sorry Marnie!) 

I moved to Qu'Appelle in 1998. I met Theresa Frederickson (nee Priddell) shortly after. We were friends until she passed in September of 2001. Sarah her daughter was a year older than my little girl.

In our knee jerk reaction, and joined by lots and lots of the women in our community, we mobilized and did the Run for the Cure...of course this was so long ago, it wasn't even called the Run for the Cure yet. We raised about $50,000 for research in those days but we noticed there was a huge gap in the quality of life for people.  

The gap was women with no prosthetic or wigs because they had no money. Women with cancer living off of the food bank or worse yet, losing their homes because when you don't work, you don't get paid. 15 weeks of EI can get eaten up pretty quickly, leaving a lot of women still sick and very poor. 

Imagine a mom telling her kids Santa couldn't come because she was sick.  Knowing there was no money for gifts or food for a meal. Imagine no new back pack for a little guys starting school because Mommy has cancer. And I tell you, that was one of the hardest phone calls ever.  I called and asked a very little voice if I could talk to Mommy and he said I couln't because she was sleeping. I hung up the phone and I cried.  And for the record, we made sure that he had all the new school supplies that he needed to start school.  The kids were five, three and one. 

We take away the stress of worrying about the power bill and the mortgage payments, in hopes that these women can gather strength and fight instead. 

We are not just another cancer education/research group. We make sure that the women that need lymphodema rehabilitation and support get it. The government doesn't pay for that. We do!
We make sure that prosthetics fit properly so spine's don't curve. We make sure that people don't get evicted or foreclosed on. SaskCancer doesn't do that. We do! But we can only do this with your help. What you all do here tonight makes a huge difference down the road for these women and their families. And on behalf of all of those women, we thank you. 

I'm sorry.  This was a long one.  (I guess it is a good thing that I wasn't able to attend. They might still be listening to me!) 

As everyone knows, I am rocking a cane this year.  A year ago, yesterday, March 21, 2013, I woke up with a pain in my hip. My health deteriorated and I am still not better and still undiagnosed. One day I think I am getting stronger and the next, I can't get out of bed.  Like tonight.  But I do feel like I am a fraction of what I was a year ago. 

So it is with a heavy heart and that I made a life altering decision to step down and leave Forever Friends. I have given this group, this cause, everything I have had for 13 years. I have been president for almost it's entire existence. It is a baby that I have watched grow. We were an unknown group and now social workers call us asking if we can help. The cancer agencies refers people to us. We meet people on the street that know who we are and what we do.  I have nurtured this organization second only to my children.  I am incredibly proud of what we have been able to accomplish. 

I step down knowing that it is in good hands. I know that the women that come after me will do a great job. I know my board will continue to lead in the area of quality of life for cancer support in Saskatchewan. We went from helping women with breast cancer in the Regina Qu'Appelle Health Region to helping all women in Saskatchewan with all types of cancer.  We started in our own kitchens as our kids played on the floor to a registered charity and our kids graduating. 

If you want to get involved, host a Lia Sofia party. Call Estelle and have a party. She donated part of the proceeds to us. Host a purse swap. Host a golf tournament. Approach your company about a donation. Volunteer on the board. There are a million ways to get involved. And not just with us, with any organization that you hold close to your heart. 

There are people who say, "Why would I get involved? What would it matter?"
This group has given me more amazing blessings than I have time to go over. These women have become my friends. These have been an awesome 13 years. It is with a heavy heart that I resign. But a very full heart, full of pride, love and gratitude. 

I appreciate all of you looking to me for leadership in the last 13 years.  This has been one of the best and one of the hardest things that I have ever done.  

And I will end as I began, with my glass raised to Theresa. "The joy of knowing her was worth the pain of losing her."

There but by the grace of God, go I.

Thank you for the amazing memories! 

Monday, 10 March 2014

We Are Getting Closer to the Ladies Night Auction

Our night draws closer.  We get more excited.  Yesterday I ordered the gift certificate for the Temple Gardens Mineral Spa stay donated by Plainsview Credit Union.  I know we have a pretty awesome kids ride on tractor from Young's Equipment.  We have jewelry, gift bags, and a pink purse from The Pink Tree.  

And we are still getting things coming in.  Planter's from Wood Country, Travel Bags from Dusyk and Barlow, and what is sure to be a great donation from Whoo Calls in Qu'Appelle.  We don't have it yet but last years was a Texas mickey!  This year we even have Lia Sofia earrings for some of the balloon pop items.  

The cheesecake bites are ordered, the liquor is on its way. We are having a great time putting everything together.  We are meeting on the 16 of March in Qu'Appelle to do my favorite part of the auction.  That is when we get everything together.  We take some of what we heard last year from the amazing women that support us every year.  We try our best to fix any suggestions that we have.  We try to make the experience amazing for everyone.  We really do listen.  

Our biggest complaint over the years has been that it runs too late.  We try really hard to get everything to end by 11.  That's not always possible when we have so many AWESOME donations.  But that is where the silent auction has come into play.  So rest assured we are listening and trying our best to make it a fabulous experience.   

And the biggest announcement of all is our balloon pop sponsor.  Matt Inglis is sponsoring our balloon pop this year.  Matt has been a huge sponsor since coming on board a few years ago.  He has volunteered as a man-whore...I mean server...for years and has always helped with a donation as well. So if you are looking for some financial planning his number is 306-530-1666.  If you would rather email his email is and tell him we sent you.  He really knows his stuff!  Thanks again!  

Have a great day everyone!!!

Monday, 3 March 2014

Forever Friends Ladies Night Out Auction!

As we approach the auction, I am aware that I have not blogged as much as I did last year.  Although I am not working it seems as though I can not seem to find time to blog here.  I have been working on mine and selfishly I suppose, neglected this one.

The auction is on March 22 this year.  We have donation items rolling in and I am very excited to see what all is there in the final swoop.  It is always like Christmas morning when we sort everything out.  We separate the raffle, balloon pop, and auction items.  Find some cute door prize items, and call it a day.  We are separating everything on March 16 this year.

This year we have given away more money than ever before.  We helped a woman who needed to have a dental check up before cancer treatments on her throat.  Sask Health doesn't pay for check ups and only pays for extractions, nothing else.  We helped make sure she was ready for her treatments.

We helped a family we have helped in the past.  She was declared terminal and given three months, almost 2 years ago.  The first time I called the house their five year old answered the phone.  He said I couldn't talk to Mommy because she was sleeping.  I knew from the application that there was a younger set of twins.  I cried when I hung up the phone.  When we helped before it was before the CPP disability kicked in.  This time they were okay except for food.  They just needed food.  Imagine yourself looking at 3 kids under the age of 8 now and saying to yourself we're okay except for food.

Because my family and I are in a somewhat similar situation now, I can appreciate the situation these women are in even more.  Although I am not in a life threatening situation, (I don't think) it does bring to light the different sides of sickness.

I hope you all join us for the Ladies Night Out.  I have tickets, you can call 699-7788 and I will hook you up!  If you would like to donate something let us know and we will come and pick it up when it is convenient for you.

Sunday, 1 December 2013

It really can be you!

My speech from Thursday November 28, 2013 at the “Saskatchewan’s Got Talent”. 

I would like to start as a woman I admire ends. “Be kind to one another!”  Ellen DeGeneres makes a habit to help people that need it.  It always warms my heart.

Last night I was lucky enough to be at a football banquet for my son’s team.  He is 17 and this year they won the 9man 3A provincial championship.  At the supper last night, they collected food for the food bank.  As I sat and looked at the team, many were on the honor roll, many play different sports, and they are all just good kids. 

I got an email from a lady that was a board member.  It was regarding an unexpected donation.  An eight year old girl named Ashlynn had decided for her birthday all she wanted from her friends was two toonies.  One she kept and the other she collected and gave to us after overhearing from her mom talk about what we do.  She must have a lot of friends because she donated $118 in a Ziploc bag!

So here is my point.  There are amazing kids in this world because we made them that way in the same way that our parents taught us to be kind to one another.  I really do believe that if we got out of bed every day and decided to be kind to one another, the world would be a better place. 

This year has been amazing for me.  It has also been a tough year for my family and I.  I was able to complete my CAIB designation which was great.  (For all you non insurance people this is a big deal!)  I was also honored to be nominated and then win a Woman of Distinction award for my work with Forever Friends.  Some pretty amazing stuff!  And then everything changed.

Two days before our spring auction, two days before I wrote my final CAIB exam, I had a pain in my right hip.  

That pain progressed to more joints and more pain.  Balance problems, hospital stays and unknown trips to the doctors followed.  They actually still don’t know what I have.  So I am rocking my new accessory, my cane, and having a lot of naps. 

So in one day my world changed.  By the end of August I could no longer work.  I have to take a scooter when I shop because I can no longer walk through the stores.  I was unable to attend my son’s football games.  I missed my first Forever Friends meeting in eleven years. 

Everything changed in one day.  I have said over and over that we are all one diagnosis, one decision away from being in a place in your life from requiring help. 

My husband put my socks on for the month of September because I was  so sick that I couldn’t do it myself.  I went from working all the time, boot camp a couple of nights a week, being the first one in and the last one out in everything I did, to my husband putting my socks and shoes on for me.  It still seems surreal to say it. 

My message is simple.  Do not take your health for granted.  While you are healthy get disability insurance, make a will, have accessible savings.  Know what your insurance covers.  Does your mortgage insurance have a half pay meaning that only half of your mortgage is covered?  What are you waiting periods?  Ask questions.  Talk to an advisor. Make sure you are set up.  Your family counts on you.  Small business, look into benefits for your employees.  Providing for our families-no matter what is the goal. 

Forever Friends helps women financially after a cancer diagnoses.  We step in and fill in the blanks for women who have exhausted their 15 weeks of disability and are left to social services.  Because if you are not terminal, there is no long term disability in this country.  Our government prefers to pay 25 year old people not to work and not to help people that can’t.  But I digress, that is for a different speech.  This year alone we have stopped 2 evictions and paid for dental visits.  Imagine needing 150 dollars to pull a tooth that is causing great pain and having no way to get this money.  We have paid for lymphedema support, ostomy supplies, and food. 

The one that really hits home now is a family with 2 kids, a mother that is terminal, and a father that worked a job for years at $14 dollars an hour and just got laid off.  With not even enough food in the house, there would definitely be no Christmas.  We gave them money for food, and sponsored them for a Salvation Army Adopt a Family.  Santa will still come to their house this year. 

Anyone who has ever heard me speak knows how I feel about this.  I have been saying it for years.  But even I have learned this year that it could happen to me. 

I am not telling you all of this for sympathy.  As I walk off the stage tonight, picture yourself in my shoes.  Imagine your own life.  And remember, there but by the grace of God, go I. 

Thank you all!

Monday, 11 November 2013


As the time clicks closer to the Big Day, we all start to get a little bit more high strung.  And yes, it is possible. 

We have received donations from South Country Haven donated the first and Sirius Taxidermy supplies donated the other.  We are looking forward to both auctions.  Our meeting is on the 17th in order to get everything organized.  We will have more pictures then. 

It always seems to happen.  As we are preparing for an event, we get an applicant.  This always helps us to keep us grounded.  A woman with no income, living with her son.  Not old enough for pension and no social services coverage.  In need of colonoscopy supplies. 

And so it continues.  Call Danah 306-699-7788 for tickets to our Saskatchewan's Got Talent.  Thank you all for helping us, help others!

Thursday, 31 October 2013

It's been a while but now the count down is on!

I know that it has been a while since I have been able to write at all.  Being sick is no hell at all.  If anyone reads Ranting and Ravine Saskatchewan Style, you will know what I am talking about.  If not I have something, but no one knows what, so we have been testing for the last 6 months.

As everyone hopefully knows, we are having a big event in November.  Planning has been going very well!
As you can see we have a lot going on.  Just this morning we found out that The Honorable Speaker of the House, Andrew Scheer has agreed to allow us to auction off a meal with him.  This is very exciting for us!  We are exploring the idea for some other famous folks!  Keep an eye on the Face Book page for updates!
Thanks for reading!  We also helped two women this month.  There are a lot of supplies that are not covered by the government that we would usually assume are paid for.  For example colostomy bags.  These can be quite expensive, especially if the patients stomach does not react well to chemo.  The government does have some programs that pay for half but they only reimburse about a month after, not up front.  We have helped in the past by paying for the first month upfront, and the other half in advance.  It is sometimes the hard to talk about effects of cancer that we should be talking about more. 
Stay tuned!