Nanaimo Search and Rescue has reached out to the public to help rescue its deputy chief after a cancer diagnosis.
Janet Rygnestad, NSAR’s deputy chief of operations, has breast cancer and will be unable to work as she receives treatment, starting with chemotherapy, which will she will undergo for much of 2021. She has been with NSAR since 2013 and is a rope rescue technician, the only female helicopter hoist technician on Vancouver Island, an avalanche and wilderness dog handler and a part-time ski patroller at Mount Washington. She is also a member of Comox Valley Ground Search and Rescue.
Carly Trobridge, NSAR president and search manager, said Rygnestad will need about a year of very aggressive treatment.
“She was the first female team leader for Nanaimo SAR. She’s had all sorts of firsts,” Trobridge said. “I think she’s just one of those people who has spent so many years of her life giving back to the community with tireless volunteer service … she just finished her paramedic program through the Justice Institute of B.C. She gives everything she has to the community.”
Trobridge organized the online fundraiser, Rescue Our Rescuer, through FundRazr and has set a fundraising goal of $20,000. Within 40 hours of going online, nearly $8,000 had been raised.
Rygnestad is on leave from her full-time job as a project manager with environmental assessment and monitoring firm EcoFish Research. While she does have medical benefits through her employer, costs for supplemental drugs and therapies, accommodation in Victoria while she undergoes treatment and other expenses won’t be covered.
“She’s going to be missed, that’s for sure, but she’ll be back,” Trobridge said.
For more information about the fundraiser and to donate, click here. There is also a webpage set up where people can stay up to date on Rygnestad’s treatment progress and other fundraising events at http://rescueourrescuer.ca.