Volunteers have lost their fight to keep the Canadian Cancer Society (CCS) office open in Williams Lake.
After close to 75 years of service to the community, CCS officially closed its doors this month.
“I think it’s going to be missed by a lot of people in the community,” said volunteer Leeyann Allan, noting the CCS Williams Lake office was a place people could come to simply talk to someone.
“We never offered any medical advice, but for a lack of a better word we were a shoulder to cry on, or a shoulder to vent on,” Allan said. “We were a place people come come talk about either their own cancer journey or caregivers could talk about their journey through cancer with their loved one.”
Allan, lead of the CCS community office in Williams Lake for close to 15 years, said they were notified over the Christmas holidays the CCS was downsizing to four regional offices across Canada, and its office in Williams Lake would be closed indefinitely.
In past years the Williams Lake office had been reduced to a budget of about $200 annually, and was able to remain open due to the hospitality and generosity of the Old Age Pensioners Organization and the Williams Lake Seniors Activity Centre, who allowed them to host multiple joint fundraisers throughout the year in lieu of rent.
Informational pamphlets and an office computer were always available if someone needed it, along with wigs and prosthetics, loaned out for free to anyone undergoing chemotherapy treatments.
“From what I understand the prosthesis and wigs are going to be available in the cancer lodges, like in Prince George, and the cancer treatment centres,” Allan said.
“My concern, and part of the reason we fought so long to keep the local office open is not everybody who goes through cancer goes through one of the treatment centres because so much now can be done virtually.”
When Allan was diagnosed with breast cancer in December of 2016, her own chemotherapy treatments were already underway while the city of Williams Lake was evacuated due to the 2017 wildfires. Allan finished her treatment a the Prince George BC Cancer Treatment Centre.
“I didn’t realize how hard it would hit me when it actually closed down,” Allan said, noting she had recently taken a step back, slightly, from volunteering due to her own health issues.