This holiday season, a group of young cancer patients and survivors in Montreal is sewing handwarmers as gifts for others battling the deadly disease, as a reminder that they are not alone.
“(They are) sewn very badly, but made with love and good intentions,” said Ilana Young, who knits the handwarmers with a group of other people touched by cancer.
The 37-year-old was diagnosed with cervical cancer earlier this year. Young says she knows the positive effect this small gesture can have.
“I got a few little things that made me feel that people were thinking of me and I know how great that felt,” she said.
Everyone in the group is aged between 18 and 40 and is either a cancer patient or a survivor.
They are part of the 7,000 Canadians under the age of 40 diagnosed with cancer each year.
Activities like these allow them to come together to bond and comfort one another.
“A lot of patients deal with neuropathy and cold fingers and lose a little bit of their feeling, so the idea was to have something to maybe hold onto during treatment,” said Karen Lazarovitz of the Hope and Cope Wellness Centre, which provides support and resources for cancer patients in Montreal.
And those undergoing cancer treatment say they’re touched that strangers are supporting them as they too fight for their lives.
“There’s this sense of community…that you’re never alone,” said 27-year-old Stephanie Joseph.
Joseph was just 27 when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. She is now undergoing her second round of chemotherapy.
Despite coming from complete strangers, she said the handwarmers are a reminder than someone understands her struggle.
“They know what it’s like because they’re living it, they’re going through it, so it makes it more special.”
With a report from CTV Montreal’s Vanessa Lee