Cancer can change a person. It can defeat them or it can motivate them. Ann-Marie chose to think of her diagnosis as a way to teach people that they can survive and all you need is friends and family.
Ann-Marie Coombe, 52, from Burlington, ON was suffering from intense back pain when she got diagnosed with stage 4 neuroendocrine cancer in 2015. The doctors told her that it had spread to her back, shoulders, liver and lungs.
She was forced to leave her long-time job at Dan Lawrie Insurance and spend her days at home in bed. The time away lasted 1 year.
Ann-Marie had little mobility and was unable to move up and down the stairs in her house. Racheal Daugilis, a friend of her daughters decided to start a GoFund me page to raise money for chair lifts. The page raised a total of $14 000 from donations made by friends and family.
After beginning a pill form of chemo, she started to gain weight and get her strength back. Although the cancer isn't gone, it has stopped growing and she is slowly getting back to her old self.
Information about neuroendocrine cancer
Ann-Marie reflects on the past year and how it changed her life significantly.
While talking about getting the initial diagnosis, she says, "It's just reality. I have to move forward from there. I have two young girls and I'm here to be with them."
Alex Coombe, her daughter says that learning about her mom's cancer was a scary moment. She says, "seeing your parent become the weak person is devastating. They are the ones supposed to be taking care of you not the other way around."
Alex and Ann-Marie celebrating Christmas after the diagnosis
Racheal Daugilis, longtime friend of Alex started a GoFund me page in order to help raise money for the family. She says, "I wanted to be able to help this family that I had grown so close too. I knew that the installation of a chair-lift would be beneficial and that they wouldn't be able to afford it on their own."
Racheal Daugilis - friend of the family & creator of the GoFund me page.
The amount of donations and support from family and friends was overwhelming. The goal of $11 000 was quickly surpassed to raise almost $14 000. Her workplace also banded together to buy her an iPad for her days spent in bed and $10 000 so that she would have financial padding.
Ann-Marie today, sitting in her chair-lift.
Even though she isn't out of the woods yet, Ann-Marie is thinking positively. She says she wants to live her life to the fullest which involves spending time with her daughters, travelling and living in the moment. She also hopes that she can be a beacon of light to people that might be losing hope while in the same types of situations.