For many people Christmas is a difficult time of year.
Instead of joyous reunions with family and friends some people are remembering loved ones lost or may be alone, or dealing with a family crisis of one type or another.
Leanne Cowan and her family are in the latter category.
Leanne, and her husband, Colin Tanner, are planning a quiet Christmas with her father Daniel Cowan.
It will be quiet because Daniel is in the battle of his life fighting oesophageal cancer.
Leanne says her dad was diagnosed with the cancer in October 2013 but didn’t tell his family about his condition until last January.
He had surgery to remove the cancer, but his condition is now very fragile.
About a month ago Leanne and Colin moved Daniel from his home in the country to his own apartment in town.
Leanne says he chose to continue living on his own rather than with them, but they are augmenting the work of his personal care aide, by helping him out with cooking, cleaning, shopping and just keeping him company.
Some of Daniel’s siblings came from Calgary for a pre-Christmas visit and helped to decorate his apartment for the holidays.
Colin, although he can’t speak very well at this point or eat very solid foods, said he is very appreciative of the help he is receiving.
“My life is my dad right now,” Leanne says. “Everything is my dad.”
Leanne says her mother died when she was nine so she and her dad have become very close over the years. She was raised by her dad between Calgary and Williams Lake as he worked in a variety of jobs, moving truck driver, carpentry, and logging.
She says her father has always been good natured and encouraging.
“It’s been really hard,” Leanne says. “It’s been my dad and I pretty much since I was two years old. He was funny all the time and made me feel special. He treated me like an adult even when I wasn’t. He is my hero.”
She has fond memories of their times together as a child going to his baseball games and when he would take her and her cousin on weekend drives for ice cream to a neighbouring town, singing all the way.
As a teenager she also helped him with his moving jobs, moving furniture into big fancy homes in Calgary.
She remembers one job when they had to move furniture into a big fancy house in Calgary through a mirror-lined hallway.
She was terrified she would break something but her dad just talked to her calmly, made a few jokes and the job was done without a hitch.
“A lot of the young guys he has worked with like him because he is a jokester and a happy-go-lucky fellow,” Leanne says.
For the past couple of months Leanne has been selling chocolates periodically at a table in Save One Foods and in Boitanio Mall.
She started selling The World’s Finest Chocolates in Calgary to raise funds for the food bank there and again in Chilliwack to help a little boy fighting cancer.
She has also sold chocolates to help another little boy with cancer in the Williams Lake area, but about a month ago she started selling the chocolates to help her father fill one of the wishes on his bucket list — something to make him happy during this uncertain time.
Leanne says some of his ideas include a trip to visit family in Calgary, a week at a hunting lodge up north, but at the top of his list is a trip to Alaska by motor home next summer.
Like her dad, Leanne has shared her life between Williams Lake and Calgary with forays to other communities. She is trained as a care-aid but likes working in kitchens. She is currently working as a janitor for Boitanio Mall and Kiwi Cleaners which has allowed the flexibility she needs to be with her father when he needs her.
“Both my bosses are awesome if I need flex time to be with my dad,” Leanne says.
“I would like to thank everyone in Williams Lake who has helped my father by buying the chocolates.”
Anyone who would like to help can also call her at 778-412-4120. After she fundraises for her father Leanne says she will start fundraising for a child in 100 Mile House who is also fighting cancer.