Alberta Cancer Foundation

Former caregiver Gordon Welch recalls the support from the Cross Cancer Institute

Paula Marie Welch was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1982, and after a long journey of 16 years, she died in 1998. Gordon Welch, her husband, tells us her story.

“She was probably the kindest and most positive person I have ever known,” Gordon recalls.

“The journey was not too difficult at first,” Gordon explains. Paula received a mastectomy after her diagnosis, and the couple moved to Nova Scotia in 1994. But over the years, cancer spread to her lymph nodes, eventually spreading to her sinus glands and spine – even after chemotherapy and radiation. In 1997, they moved back to Alberta and continued her treatments at the Cross Cancer Institute in Edmonton. 

Gordon recalls the support from the Cross Cancer Institute amid the stress, and how they were able to find other support services when the previous treatments were not effective. “The people at the Cross were incredibly supportive and thorough. We never felt ignored and they kept information flowing throughout.”

In December 1998, Paula passed away.

“She was so brave and positive. … I am doing OK today but I can tell you that I miss her every day.”

Gordon greatly appreciates the various support that Paula received. “Having supportive friends and relatives was very important. … People at the Cross, and QEII, were so supportive and understanding. I will always appreciate their efforts on behalf of Paula and myself.” 

For anyone in a similar situation, Gordon’s advice is to stay positive and to take time for yourself, but also to advocate for yourself in getting treatment and support. “Access all the support services you can get,” he says.

“Be your own advocate. Sometimes things get lost in the process. Never be sorry for pushing for the best treatment possible. Cancer is a frightening disease but there are people out there who can help. Never be reticent about seeking help,” he says. 

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