When Louise Krewusik went for her regularly scheduled mammogram in June 2019, she wasn’t too concerned. It was something she did every year.
But, this time was different.
Her doctor followed up with an ultrasound, and then a biopsy. “The alarm bells started to ring,” said Krewusik.
A week later, she received “the call.” She had breast cancer.
“I thought, ‘Why me?’” said Krewusik, who had no family history of breast cancer and maintained a healthy lifestyle. “I was really angry that this disrupted my life as I knew it.”
With knowledge, her perspective shifted: according to the Canadian Cancer Society, an estimated 1 in 8 women will develop breast cancer during their lifetime. “After that, I got to a place of, ‘Why not me?’ I accepted it.”
She prepared for treatment and as she did, many women from her home in Grande Cache, Alberta, lovingly mentioned one support service from their own cancer journeys.
“Everyone said, ‘You must stay at [Sorrentino’s] Compassion House.’”
Operated by Compassion House Foundation, Sorrentino’s Compassion House is a haven for women who must travel to Edmonton for cancer treatment. Since opening in 2002, more than 1,700 women from 284 communities across western Canada — primarily northern and central Alberta — have called this one-of-a-kind space a home.
No one battles alone. Guests become friends ― “sisters” who “get it” ― to form a whole community of women supporting each other on the same journey.
“I could allow myself to be vulnerable,” said Krewusik, at a time when she felt like she had to be strong for others in her life. “It was a Godsend for me.”
Krewusik was so inspired by her experience, she will be sharing her story at Syncrude presents Fashion with Compassion At Home, a virtual fundraising event to support Compassion House Foundation and the operation of Sorrentino’s Compassion House.
To keep guests safe through COVID-19, the Foundation decided to shift the 24-year fashion fundraiser online for the first time. Now, anyone from anywhere will be able to tune in on event night for a combination of live and pre-recorded segments featuring local fashion retailers, entertainment, silent auction and raffle prizes, and the main event: stories from Krewusik and four other former guests called Special Models.
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“Our Special Models have always been at the centre of our event; they deserve to be celebrated for their strength and resiliency,” said Michelle Okere, CEO of Compassion House Foundation. “While this year’s event will certainly look different, our goal remains the same: to ease the distress of the cancer journey for women.”
Proceeds from the event help keep fees reasonable, making it more affordable for guests so they can focus on what’s most important: healing.
“I can’t imagine staying anywhere else,” said Krewusik. “It was probably one of the best decisions I’ve made in my life.”
Fashion with Compassion at Home takes place October 8. Single tickets and corporate packages offering a virtual table experience are still available. To learn more and purchase tickets, visit compassionhouse.org/fwc.
Single Ticket: $50 Corporate Package: $1,000 Optional Ticket Add-On, “The Strength Within” Necklace: $125