On May 19, Tiffany Blake heard the dreaded words, “You have cancer.” She faced stage 3 cervical cancer with pelvic and abdominal lymph node involvement.
“I was just numb,” said Blake, as she prepared to share the news with her family and friends.
Her recommended course of treatment was radiation and chemotherapy over six weeks, all at the Cross Cancer Institute in Edmonton. Blake lived in Fort McMurray.
With COVID-19 surging, and no family or friends to stay with, Blake began searching for a place to stay in Edmonton during her treatment ― and found Sorrentino’s Compassion House.
“I reached out and right away, I received a response and was told I had a room,” said Blake. “I didn’t have to think anymore about where I was staying. I told my family, and they felt relief, too.”
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 1,800 women from 295 communities across western Canada, primarily northern and central Alberta, have called the space 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.
“Due to COVID-19, I wasn’t able to have anyone with me; it was a very lonely and frightening feeling,” said Blake. “There, everyone had one thing in common. We shared laughs and tears during our daily updates, meals, movie nights, walks and visits.
“It was my safe haven.”
Blake was so inspired by her experience, she will be sharing her story at the 25th anniversary of Syncrude presents Fashion with Compassion, a fundraising event to support Compassion House Foundation and the operation of Sorrentino’s Compassion House.
The virtual celebration will include a combination of live and pre-recorded segments connected by a “light” theme. Anyone, anywhere is invited to enjoy local fashion retailers, entertainment from headliner Chantal Kreviazuk, a silent auction and 50/50 prizes, and the main event: stories from Blake and two other former guests called Special Models.
“This year’s milestone event is really about saying thank you to the community and celebrating all that we’ve accomplished together,” said Michelle Okere, CEO of Compassion House Foundation. “These past 25 years have been a time of home, connection and camaraderie when women needed it most.
“But, cancer doesn’t take a day off,” she added. “The need continues and together, we can ensure there’s always a light on at Sorrentino’s Compassion House.”
Proceeds from the event support operations and fees at Sorrentino’s Compassion House, making it more affordable for guests. That way, they can focus on what’s most important: healing.
“They made the worst time in my life bearable,” said Blake. “I’m so grateful.”
The 25th Anniversary of Syncrude presents Fashion with Compassion takes place October 22. Single tickets and corporate packages offering a virtual table experience are still available. To learn more and purchase tickets, visit compassionhouse.org/fwc.