Fundraising for cancer research and support for patients will still be needed in Nanaimo, but there won’t be a local office where those things will happen.
The Canadian Cancer Society office at Nanaimo’s Terminal Park Mall is now permanently closed.
The office on Poplar Street had been closed temporarily since March due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but volunteers have now been advised that the office won’t reopen, nor will others on Vancouver Island.
“COVID forced the closure of all the offices,” said Dee Lawrence, a volunteer. “People couldn’t get into the offices, we can’t afford them, we’ve got nothing happening, no donations coming in.”
She was at the office Friday afternoon sorting items for a garage sale that will be held Sept. 19, with all proceeds going to the Cops for Cancer Tour de Rock.
Lawrence said the permanent closure of the office is “such a shame. It will be a loss to Nanaimo, I really feel, because it’s been somewhere for [people] to come when they’ve found out they’ve got cancer.”
The office has been able to provide wigs as well as breast prostheses, arrange for rides to Victoria for patients, accept donations, co-ordinate fundraising campaigns and events, and host support groups.
Susan Carlson, another volunteer, said the office has also been a place where cancer patients have been able to have in-person conversations. She said she’s enjoyed helping people who need help, just chatting with them or sharing her own experience as a cancer survivor.
“People have come in afterward and said, ‘I see what you mean. Everything’s fine.’”
She said she wants to make sure people know the office is closing and that the efforts of volunteers past and present have been appreciated.
“It’s very sad because many of us have been through these different offices and have volunteered from one time to another and one year to the next,” Carlson said.
Tiffany McFayden, the Canadian Cancer Society’s community manager for Vancouver Island, told Black Press at the start of the summer that the society would be closing most of its office space Canada-wide but would continue to have an important presence in communities.
“Working with our committed volunteers, our goal is to continue to engage the community once this health crisis is behind us,” McFayden said. “We are deeply grateful to our staff, volunteers and supporters who have demonstrated resilience and their commitment to our mission throughout this pandemic and beyond.”
The Canadian Cancer Society will sell furniture and other items at its office-closing garage sale Sept. 19, 9 a.m.-5 p.m., at its office at 777 Poplar St.