There are two things you can be assured of in this life — each of us will be affected in some way or another by cancer, and music makes us all feel something.
In keeping with both of those themes, Les Ms. and Friends gathered in late October at Holy Heart Theatre for a night of music and fundraising in support of the Dr. H. Bliss Murphy Cancer Care Foundation with the Sing For Care event.
This marks the 10th consecutive year the choir has put together a show that included performances by Les Ms. under the direction of Valerie Long, the Celeste Choir under the direction of Sonya Gosse, the Holy Heart Alumnae Choir and Let’s Make a Choir 2018, also under the direction of Long. Special guests included Gosse, Anna Mercer, Deanne Delahunty, Lisa Bokelmann and Sandra Pope.
This year’s event raised $6,338 and brings the 10-year total to more than $155,000 that will go to provide support and services for people living and dealing with cancer in Newfoundland and Labrador.
“It is mind blowing to us that people continue to come out year after year to listen to and support the choirs,’’ Long said.
“The choirs come and get to raise their voices to raise money for this worthwhile cause.”
The team at Dr. H. Bliss Murphy Cancer Care Foundation helps to raise funds that go toward enhancing treatment and supportive care programs for cancer patients, funding local cancer research initiatives, and providing continuing education opportunities for staff of the centre and affiliated cancer programs in Newfoundland and Labrador.
All the money raised stays in the province and is used to enhance regional programs close to the respective patient’s home, support local education programs and research projects, and acquire cancer treatment equipment. Funds also go to the Patient and Family Support Fund.
“The need is huge. With Les Ms. — and other fundraising efforts that contribute to the fund — we are happy to have their contributions,’’ said Kelly Reid, development officer at the Dr. H. Bliss Murphy Cancer Care Foundation.
“We have patients that have to sleep in their cars, so this funding goes to good use to try and eliminate that."
Reid said a cancer diagnosis is difficult enough, but the financial burden families must face is the tougher part. There are chemotherapy units located in various communities (Gander, Corner Brook, etc.) across the province, and people have to travel a variety of distances to get treatment. In addition, someone requiring radiation treatment can get it only at the Health Sciences Centre in St. John’s.
“To obtain patient and family support, for people going through treatments, they make an application to us and then meet with a social worker who conducts an interview to see what their needs and means are,’’ Reid said.
"They look at the applicant’s finances and see what can be done to pay for travel, meals and accommodations," she added.
The show’s focus is best summed up in its closing number’s final lines from “I’ll Make A Difference” by Moses Hogan that says:
“We will make the diff'rence
(Yes, we can make it.)
We will make it!
Take my hand!”
Donations to “Sing for Care” can be made at any time by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Road To Carnegie
Les Ms. is working each day to prepare for a prestigious opportunity of being part of an International Women’s Day performance on March 17, 2019 at Carnegie Hall in New York City.
Operating under the mantra of “no chorister will be left behind,” they have banded together in sisterhood and even performed one of the numbers they will do in New York and received a great response to “Always Keep This Close’ composed by Zachary J. Moore.
They have a host of fundraisers underway, including tickets on $10,000 ($10 each or three for $20), bridge games and other means.
Information on these and all activities and concerts can be found on the website at lesms.ca or on the Les Ms. Facebook page.
How cash is divided:
The Patient and Family Support Fund disbursed $129,026 from April 2017 to March 2018 and the assistance was broken down as follows:
Cash - $115,260
Food - $9,200
Gas - $1,000
Bus - $332
*Other - $3,234 (*Category includes prosthesis and compression garments)
NOTE - Amounts have been rounded up to the nearest dollar. There may be some small adjustment in actual amounts as sometimes invoices have not been received by the reporting period.
Funds by region
The following is a breakdown of funds across Newfoundland and Labrador according to region:
Eastern – 49 per cent
Central – 23 per cent
Western – 18 per cent
Northern and Labrador – 9 per cent
The following is a breakdown of who is being helped by the Patient and Family Support Fund:
Female – 51 per cent
Male – 49 per cent
Patients assisted had an average bi-weekly income of $845.76
With an annual bi-weekly average of disposable income of -$136.62
Age groups of patients receiving assistance:
60-69: 33 per cent
70-79: 23 per cent
50-59 – 19 per cent
40-49: 10 per cent
30-39: 7 per cent
80 and older: 6 per cent
20-29 – 1 per cent