Yukon cancer survivors Lola (dog), Cathie Archbould, Ciara Stick, Joe Iles, Stuart Van Bibber, Jeanie Dendys and Hank Karr. PHOTO: Cathie Archbould

The big “C”. Cancer. It’s a diagnosis that rocks you to your core. Earlier this year, a close friend of mine was handed that news and it definitely shatters any delusions of health and normalcy. And that’s because we tend to focus on the most important part – the health component.

But there’s more to it than health, when someone’s life is flipped like a well-set table. That’s why the Yukoners Cancer Care Fund is holding their second annual Denim Day fundraiser on April 10. Denim Day participants purchase a $5 pin and wear jeans to work.

Until you see it firsthand, it is difficult to comprehend the personal, professional and financial complications unleashed by a cancer diagnosis. We take for granted that our social safety net will look after us when we’re sick and incapable of working.

The reality is that every net has holes and every situation is different.

Yukoners often travel Outside for treatments that can be both debilitating and sickening themselves, leaving the patients unable to work. In the meantime, those individuals have bills to pay, children to feed, housing payments to meet and pets to look after.

The Yukoners Cancer Care Fund was started in 2014 by Geraldine Van Bibber and is administered by the Yukon Hospital Foundation. It provides funding support for those Yukoners in need during their travel for cancer treatment. Some may question the need for funds like Yukoners Cancer Care in the internet era, when individuals can reach out to a strong network of friends via online crowdfunding on websites such as GoFundMe or YouCaring. But there are Yukoners who can’t rely on that, according to Karen Forward, president of the Hospital Foundation.

“The problem for some people is that they aren’t internet savvy and don’t necessarily have that network of support,” Forward said. “The fund is for all kinds of support for travel for cancer. Some people need dog-sitting, others need a driveway shovelled.”

While this is the second Denim Day in the Yukon, Denim Day fundraisers have been around for years.

Forward recalls one that has been happening in Montreal for about 20 years. That event raises money for support of breast cancer patients. However, that’s not the case in the Yukon.

“Yukoners Cancer Care Fund helps with all cancers except breast cancer,” Forward explained. “In the Yukon, Karen’s Fund provides that support only for breast cancer. Both are now administered by the Hospital Foundation.”

The Yukoners Cancer Care Fund needs to raise $50,000 to $60,000 annually to meet the current need from applications. While the Hospital Foundation has a number of events to raise funds, like the annual golf tournament or Festival of Trees Grand Ball, there was a need to develop an event that everyone can enjoy.

Denim Day participants are being encouraged to share photos on social media of themselves and co-workers wearing denim and their buttons. They can use the hashtag #YukonDenimDay.

“We really wanted a fun, affordable event that everyone can participate in,” Forward said. “The more people see it being fun, the more they’ll participate.

Yukoners wanting to get involved can find Denim Day buttons at Angellina’s Toy Boutique, Climate Clothing, Three Bean Natural Foods, Season’s Galleria, the Canada Games Centre information kiosk or the Yukon College Bookstore.

As well, orders of over 25 buttons can be made on the Yukon Hospital Foundation website, www.YHF.ca.

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