Wellspring member donates $100,000 to Chronic Cancer and Family programs

January 25, 2024

With the understanding and support of her husband John, Wellspring member, Diane Balanyk-McNeil made the decision to generously donate $100,000 to Wellspring’s Adopt-a-Program initiative.

Funds will be distributed to the Chronic Cancer Support Group, Family Counselling Program, and Skills and Strategies Programs at Wellspring’s Westerkirk House. “Diane wanted to do something really meaningful, and she has my full support,” John says.

Having benefited from Wellspring’s programs after a life-altering cancer diagnosis and upon learning that Wellspring has no core government or hospital funding, Diane knew she could make a difference. “Everything that is donated goes directly into the programing for the participants of Wellspring. I needed no more than that to know that this is one of the most important foundations in this country,” Diane says.

Wellspring CEO, Christina Smith, says the money donated by Diane is significant. “This donation will make a huge difference to the lives of many. We are so incredibly grateful to Diane for her generous gift,” she says.

The decision to fund these programs was personal for Diane, as both she and John had benefited from them already. “With the Chronic Cancer Support Group, I want to bring comfort to those who feel alone or without hope; that support will be there through the sunset of their lives. The Family Counselling Program can also provide a much-needed support outlet to families; emotionally, physically, and financially,” Diane says.

In early 2023, Diane was diagnosed with myeloproliferative neoplasms (MPN) cancer: a rare blood cancer without a cure. As MPN is so understudied, visits to specialists can at times be stressful for patients. The toll of MPN cancer is overwhelming, with people often experiencing intense headaches, fatigue, weakness, bruising and bleeding, and pain in bones and joints. The response to these symptoms is often accompanied by loss of hope, anxiety, and depression.

Diane finds solace from the stress of her life through the welcoming doors of Wellspring’s Westerkirk House, where she regularly meets with Peer Support Volunteers, attends Support Groups, the Nourish Program, and the Healing Journey Program. For Diane, the mental health support that Wellspring provides has been the most important aspect of her healing journey. It is why she is so passionate about donating to Wellspring; so others living with cancer can experience the same care.

“Our medical specialists take great care of our physical needs in fighting our battle with cancer. But the ‘missing half’ is the compassion and support we need to navigate this journey into unknown seas. Wellspring gives us the opportunity to fill this emotional gap,” Diane says.

Diane encourages anyone who can to consider donating to Wellspring and its programs. “You can make people’s lives happier, more supported, and more built on skills and coping strategies—no donation can be more important than that,” Diane says.

Diane’s cancer diagnosis has shifted her perspective of life. Her focus is now to live a life that is meaningful and worthwhile. While her remaining time on earth may be unknown, she does know that Wellspring will be a part of her life until the very end. “I do not know how long I will live, but if I can share with others what the Wellspring community gives to me, I will feel that my life has mattered.”

If you are interested in making a donation to Wellspring, please email Associate Director, Major Gifts, Ashley Karp at ashley@wellspring.ca or visit: https://wellspring.ca/donate-now/

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