Bonnie Clark has been living with cancer for more than a year, and the support she has received from her community has been life-changing.
Bonnie Clark of Cartwright is still amazed when she thinks about how much support she received from her community.
Clark has called Cartwright home for about 60 years. In August 2017, she was diagnosed with kidney cancer.
Sitting at her kitchen table, Clark recalls that day.
“I wasn’t anymore upset over it than if someone had told me I had strep throat. It is what it is,” Clark said. “I’ll deal with it one day at a time, one step at a time.”
Cartwright is a close-knit community, a place where people will wave at one another while making their daily commute. And when anyone is in need, Cartwright residents don’t take long to come together.
Soon after her diagnosis, Clark found out she would have to travel to St. John’s for treatment. However, she didn’t know how she would get there.
Clark was working at Northern, the local grocery store in town, at the time of her diagnosis. Although she wanted to keep working, she simply couldn’t.
She worried about traveling to St. John’s, mainly because of how much air fare would cost.
“I think a return ticket from Goose Bay to St. John’s costs about $900 to $1,000, but first you need to drive to Goose Bay from here (Cartwright),” said Clark. “That’s a lot of money.”
Before she knew it, there was a fundraiser to help raise the money to get her to St. John’s.
Not even a week after her diagnosis, the community of Cartwright had raised more than $5,000 for Clark.
All of the money went towards getting her to St. John’s, food and a place to stay while she received testing or any treatments she needed.
Clark spent two and a half months in St. John’s, where she received radiation treatments.
Away from home and her family, Clark still remained optimistic.
However, in January 2018, Clark learned her cancer had spread to her lungs. Clark decided to begin chemotherapy treatments in Happy Valley-Goose Bay.
Her first treatments of chemotherapy went well. However, Clark’s most recent treatments in December made her sick.
News traveled quickly, and the community of Cartwright came together once again for Clark.
Residents held a 24-hour ticket raffle with donated groceries as the prize. Within a day, they raised $1,600.
Janet Clark, Bonnie’s daughter, who currently lives in North Bay, Ont., says the support her mother is receiving is amazing.
“Just thinking about it makes me want to cry,” said Janet. “To know the people who live there will be there to support her is a huge relief.”
“Some people are just meant to be, you know, helpers, fundraisers. They’re gifted with doing this kind of thing and never hesitate,” Janet said.
Among the helpers were Alice Lethbridge and Melody Pardy, who are two of many volunteers within the community.
“We’re almost like a family, and if something happens to somebody and they need help, we’re there to help if they need it,” said Pardy.
Lethbridge is sometimes taken aback about just how willing the community is to give.
“I had never yet been turned down,” said Lethbridge. “You know, to go to somebody and say ‘Can you buy a ticket? We’re doing this fundraiser for so and so, can you help us?’ and never yet, been refused,” Lethbridge said.
Pardy says, whatever happens, the community of Cartwright and the people in it will always be there to help someone in need.
“We’re such a close-knit community that when something happens or someone needs help, it kind of hits home for everybody,” Pardy said. “We’re almost like a family and if something happens to somebody and they need help we’re there to help if they need it,”
Bonnie Clark is still going through chemotherapy treatment and she remains hopeful. She says the support and love she’s received in the span of a year has been unbelievable.
“It has truly been the most humbling experience,” said Bonnie. “I learned, instead of saying ,‘Oh, you don’t have to do that’ or ‘What are you doing that for?’ just to say a simple ‘Thank you’,” Clark said.
“It’s such a blessing to be on the receiving end of that.”