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Family aims to help cancer patients in woman's memory

Before 29-year-old Cristina Roque passed away in March 2012 after a four-year battle with Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma, she spent a lot of time travelling between her Sudbury home and the Ottawa Hospital for treatments.
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Cristina Roque, 29, passed away in March 2012 after a four-year battle with Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma. Supplied photo.

Before 29-year-old Cristina Roque passed away in March 2012 after a four-year battle with Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma, she spent a lot of time travelling between her Sudbury home and the Ottawa Hospital for treatments.

Cristina and her mother, Fran Roque, even had to rent an apartment in Ottawa for months at a time when she was undergoing stem cell therapy. Needless to say, this was costly.

But Fran said her family might have had an easier time than others bearing the financial burden of illness and she wonders how lower-income families cope in similar situations.

That's why after Cristina passed away, the Roque family set up Cristina's Care Fund through the Northern Cancer Foundation.

Cancer patients who must travel for treatment can apply for bursaries from the fund. To date, the fund has helped 11 patients.

To raise money for the fund, Cristina's family and friends held a fundraiser last year called Cristina's Coffee House, and raised $13,000.

“It was very healing for us last year to put it together,” Fran said.

While most of the money went towards the Cristina Care Fund, $3,000 was earmarked to purchase televisions for one of the cancer treatment floors at the Ottawa Hospital, where Cristina was treated.

There were only 10 televisions for the 20 rooms on the floor.

Before she died, Cristina had expressed a desire to raise enough money to put a television in each room, a dream that has now come true.

Fran explains that television can be a comfort to someone who has spent months in a hospital room, away from family and friends.

She said it doesn't surprise her that Cristina wanted to help fellow cancer patients — it was part of her caring, loving nature.

Fran said her daughter left an impression on everyone she met, including her students at Sampo Rhythmic Gymnastics, as well as at Princess Anne Public School in Sudbury and in Chetwynd, British Columbia, where she taught school.

The Cristina's Care Fund Committee is currently in the midst of planning the second annual Cristina's Coffee House, which takes place at the Caruso Club starting at 6 p.m. on Feb. 23.

The event includes a silent auction, refreshments and entertainment.

 
Local musicians Hugh Jazz, Andrew Hyatt, Sean Barrette, JO PO, Jess Crowe, Mike Charette, Don Kunto, Ben Wardo and After Six will be performing.

Dancers from Sampo Rhythmic Gymnastics, Arts North, Claire's School of Dance and Happiness is Dancing will also entertain the crowd.

Fran said she's hoping to raise another $15,000 for Cristina's Care Fund.

Tickets, which cost $20 each, are available for purchase at the Caruso Club, Faiella's Classic Hair, the Northern Cancer Foundation or by phoning 705-524-3316.

For more information, visit www.cristinacarefund.org.

@heidi_ulrichsen 


Heidi Ulrichsen

About the Author: Heidi Ulrichsen

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