Rob and Debbie LeRose’s philanthropic embrace of oncology care at Kootenay Boundary Regional Hospital (KBRH) is especially personal and poignant to the couple.
Debbie was first diagnosed with breast cancer in May 2007 at the age of 49.
She found a pea-size lump and insisted a biopsy be done, partly due to losing a sister that January to breast cancer. The biopsy came back cancerous, launching a years long journey of living with, and being treated for, the disease.
Debbie decided to have a mastectomy and then went through chemotherapy at KBRH from July to October that year.
“The Trail hospital was a very upbeat and friendly place despite what (we were) going through,” Rob and Debbie share. “Dr. Scotland and the staff were all wonderful.”
Debbie had a reaction to the second chemo drug and was airlifted to Kelowna, where the couple says the care was also great.
After chemo she had reconstruction which took a year to complete.
Debbie was cancer free until January 2015, when a routine mammogram showed DCIS (ductal carcinoma in situ) on her other breast.
This, she was told, would most likely turn to cancer. Though it could be months or years.
She couldn’t stand the unknown and decided to have another mastectomy and reconstruction at the same time. Radiation followed in Kelowna to make sure everything was gone. Again, the hospital took great care of her.
The LeRose’s stress that women must stay proactive.
If Debbie hadn’t insisted on the biopsy, the cancer might have taken a lot longer to diagnose.
“Self-examination and mammograms are very important in finding the cancer early which is always better,” the couple said. “You also have to do whatever procedures or surgeries give you peace of mind, which is different for everyone.”
Sharing their real-life experience of living with breast cancer is especially timely as October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
Each day last year, an estimated 75 Canadians heard the life-changing words, “You have breast cancer.” And while more people are surviving a breast cancer diagnosis than ever before, it’s still the most common cancer and second leading cause of cancer death among Canadian women.
Raising awareness of the disease and giving directly to breast cancer care makes the LeRose’s story very timely as well. The couple, owners of Home Goods Furniture, have donated $84,000 to the health foundation’s Ambulatory Care Campaign. The funds will be invested in the recliner area of the new KBRH Oncology Unit.
“We feel it is very important to support Kootenay Boundary Regional Hospital to maintain a high level of medical care for all residents of the Kootenay Boundary and because of our first-hand experience with cancer and cancer treatment,” the LeRose’s said.
“We also felt it was doubly important to support a renovation of the oncology unit which guarantees a continuation of the high level of care that we received at KBRH.”