Arlene Smithers, BC
In February 2015, Arlene received the diagnosis that no one wants to hear: breast cancer.
Arlene lives in Smithers, BC, and first travelled to Prince George and Terrace for treatment, before she was referred to Vancouver. “My family physician said Vancouver was the best bet because it has state of the art equipment and they are very specialized,” Arlene says.
But Vancouver was a long way away for Arlene. “It takes 14 hours in the summer at least. In February, there is snow and there are blizzards, so it’s a long two days. The stress it would have put on my husband and I would be unbelievable. My husband would have had to take time off work which we couldn’t manage. There are many emotions one goes through when coming to grips with your diagnosis and possible surgeries and treatments and the ever fearful ‘C’ word. Now I would have to be away from home too. And the expenses add up.”
Fortunately, Arlene didn’t have to make the long journey by car once she heard of Hope Air. “I used to work at a doctor’s office so I had heard about Hope Air then. When I was referred to the BC Cancer Agency in Vancouver it sparked my memory of Hope Air.”
"There are many emotions one goes through when coming to grips with your diagnosis and possible surgeries and treatments and the ever fearful ‘C’ word. Now I would have to be away from home too. And the expenses add up."
Arlene applied to Hope Air and flew to Vancouver for the assessments and treatment she needed. “It was devastating to have to travel. I was facing the unknown once I got there,” she says. Her doctors in Vancouver performed multiple biopsies to remove the cancerous tissue.
Though being away from home was difficult, Arlene felt confident in her Vancouver doctors’ ability to treat her breast cancer. “They change equipment fast at the BC Cancer Agency because it’s a research hospital. On one scan, they found a spot they were sure they had already gotten,” she says.
After four core biopsies and 11 mammograms over the course of a year, Arlene was finally told that all of the cancer had been removed. ”I am so grateful! I can rest assured that it’s gone.”
Arlene needed to return to Vancouver for a follow up appointment and in February 2016, she was diagnosed with angular glaucoma and needed laser eye surgery – she was able to attend both appointments in one trip. Now Arlene is well and can go to her doctor in Smithers for follow up care.
“I feel very fortunate to have heard of Hope Air and for the flights they have provided me. These flights have given me peace of mind and assured me that I am able to get to all the appointments that keep me healthy. Having Hope Air available is truly a Godsend. From the simple application process online, to the kindness of the Hope Air volunteers on the other end of the phone. Of all the worries I had, travel was not one of them.”