Bringing Lisa home: Island community rallies for woman with cancer

Lisa Green and her husband Chris at the Winnipeg hospital. Photo supplied by Shari Green.Lisa Green and her husband Chris at the Winnipeg hospital. Photo supplied by Shari Green.
Lisa Green savouring the ocean view from her Campbell River hospital room, October 14. Photo supplied by Shari Green.Lisa Green savouring the ocean view from her Campbell River hospital room, October 14. Photo supplied by Shari Green.
Lisa and Christopher Green, September 2020 in Winnipeg hospital chapel. Photo supplied by Shari Green.Lisa and Christopher Green, September 2020 in Winnipeg hospital chapel. Photo supplied by Shari Green.
Lisa Green visits with her brother Nick during a refuelling stop in Calgary. Photo supplied by Shari Green.Lisa Green visits with her brother Nick during a refuelling stop in Calgary. Photo supplied by Shari Green.
Lisa Green and her husband Chris at the Winnipeg hospital. Photo supplied by Shari Green.

A woman gets to see her family and her home one last time thanks to the generosity of Campbell Riverites.

Lisa Green has been fighting multiple kinds of cancer since 2016. Initially from Campbell River, Green moved to Winnipeg to go to school. Her initial diagnosis responded well to treatment, but in July of 2020 she began having new symptoms. She was diagnosed with a second kind of cancer, this time CNS Lymphoma. After myriad treatments, doctors in Winnipeg decided that she was palliative, and worked to make her comfortable.

Most of Green’s family lives in the Campbell River area, and it is here that she calls home. After a discussion about what mattered most for her, Green decided that she wanted to come home one last time.

“For Lisa, most of her family were in B.C. except for one brother who is in Alberta. The rest of us are all in B.C., coastal people,” said her mother Shari Green. “For her, the ocean, trees, the air, all just say home. It’s a measure of comfort when so much now have become trivial, what really feels important and what feels right. This feels right, it’s home.”

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However, getting Lisa home was going to be an expensive undertaking. Shari explained that transfers between provincial jurisdictions is not covered under any health insurance. They had to find another funding source. Shari and Lisa’s husband Christopher contacted the Global Angels charity to get things moving, and a group of family and friends Shari calls “Team Lisa” took over from there.

“Some of our family really took up the cause. They were contacting people and organizations and advocating fiercely on Lisa’s behalf. We didn’t personally have it in us, but we knew that if this was going to take off in terms of fundraising, the word needed to get out,” Shari said.

The word did indeed get out. Lisa’s story resonated with the community, and with the help of a local radio station and word of mouth, the community rallied and raised over $27,000 in just a few days.

“Whether you have that sense of home in your life or you’re longing for it, the notion of home really hits people in the heart. To get this girl to where she needs to be, that was something they could rally behind, and boy did they,” Shari said.

“It’s good for my momma’s heart to see her being so well loved and so well cared for. Christopher, my husband John and I are pretty overwhelmed by the response. We are so grateful that so many people have been true community to us in this. It’s helped us get through the hardest time of our lives,” she added.

The flight from Winnipeg to Campbell River also had an unforeseen benefit. Due to high winds on the day, the plane had to land in Calgary to refuel. Coincidentally, Lisa’s brother lives in the Calgary area, and they were able to connect with him for a visit as the plane waited to refuel.

“It was so amazing that they did that for us,” Shari said. “We didn’t even ask and it wouldn’t’ve even occurred to us that it was possible. We landed in Calgary and her brother Nick, they brought him out, he got on the plane when they were refuelling and had a lovely visit with Lisa. Then they said ‘OK we’re done, get off’ and we carried on our way.”

The plane landed in Campbell River on Thanksgiving Monday to a crowd of people. Well wishers stood along the road to the hospital where Lisa is now staying. Shari said the hospital staff have given her a room with a view of the ocean, and rearranged her bed so that she can see out the window at all times.

“I’m very happy to see she is there in very good hands. It does my heart good to see. She’s got a beautiful view of the ocean from her room and they turned her bed so she could see out the window because they know that that matters,” Shari said.

The Green family would like to thank everyone who was involved in the effort to get Lisa home. The outpouring of generosity from the community has touched the family, and they would not have been able to do this without the donations and support.

“It’s been a really bizarre mix of emotions,” Shari said. “We were so elated that it was happening and that she was coming home. She was happy. Yet what it’s all about is that it’s her last weeks, and it’s been a really tough mix of emotions too. Without that love and support, so many people sharing her story and generously donating funds and offering food, words of support, I don’t know how we’d get through something like this without that community. We are so grateful to everyone who had a hand in it in any way.”

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