Joanna Low: empowering Wellspring’s mission

October 17, 2023

Reasons to give

Joanna Low is a dedicated Wellspring donor with a compelling message for others…

“Don’t wait to donate when you need the support of Wellspring – if we all do that, Wellspring won’t be there for any of us,” she said. “Every one of us will be affected by cancer at some point – whether it’s ourselves, a family member, or a co-worker. That’s just the way it is. And that’s just one of the reasons why my support for Wellspring is unwavering.”

The other reason is the profoundly impactful experience of support and empowerment Joanna’s mother experienced when she was diagnosed with colon cancer in 2016.

Joanna’s mom Patricia was a retired nurse in her 70s when extreme weight loss and loss of appetite sent the family in search of a medical explanation. After several misdiagnoses and a near-death experience, they learned she had colon cancer and needed immediate surgery.

After surgery, when Patricia opted not to have chemotherapy, the family sought out Wellspring for the mental and emotional wellness Patricia hoped to reclaim.

“My mom fought every day for recovery. She and dad were diligent in their efforts, altering their diet; dad would make mom these organic juices every day,” said Joanna. “But the biggest part of mom’s recovery was Wellspring; the exercise component, art, ukelele, photography… she took so many programs and made so many wonderful friends! These were the things that brought joy back to her life, the things that made her think that everything would be okay.”

Six and a half years later, Joanna’s mom’s cancer is still at bay, but sadly her dad passed away in 2021 after a short, mishandled battle with Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma.

For the whole family, the shock and grief was immense, but for her mom, the loss was unbearable. “Dad’s death broke my mom’s heart. Learning to be alone after being with her mate her whole life was just too much. And, like with cancer, your whole world is turned upside down when you go through these things. Sometimes your best friends disappear – they don’t know how to help,” she said.

After a brief absence from Wellspring, Patricia reached out and reengaged with the community that had fortified her during her cancer recovery.

Bobbi, a program coordinator at Wellspring, was in touch right away. “She was our saving grace – a total blessing to my mom. Bobbi helped connect mom to a grief counsellor, through whom a network of strong support was established. She was also able to talk with one of Wellspring’s wonderful peer support volunteers. These connections were so critical in helping her get through,” said Joanna. “I’m so grateful to her and to Wellspring.”

Today Patricia is slowly remoulding the pieces of her life – hoping to tap into past joy when she feels ready to pick up her ukulele once again.

“I know I wouldn’t have my mom today if Wellspring had not been there for us. Our medical system only knows how to help symptoms… Wellspring knows how to help people. My mom and I give back because Wellspring gave us back our lives. We are both happy to donate and encourage others to do the same.”

Joanna Low is involved in many community organizations, including the Kinette Club of Calgary. This past April, with her influence, the Kinette Club presented Wellspring with $1,000. This donation builds on the Club’s longstanding support for Wellspring and the programs at Carma House.

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