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The Unspoken Toll of Cancer (cont.)

 Last week, the first of a few short stories was posted that we hope will illustrate the impact cancer and other critical illnesses have on individuals, families and communities.

 This is Bob's story.

It ends in a lonely place, far from everything fond and familiar.

Bob's story began in happier times, when he and his wife lived in a small northern community that was their home for 22 years.

Each of them had jobs, and together they owned a small business. It was a comfortable life, with summers spent at their cottage on a nearby lake.

Then Bob's wife was diagnosed with leukemia, their world was suddenly shattered. Within hours, she was flying to Winnipeg for tests and prolonged treatment.

Bob rode to Winnipeg every weekend so he could be with her during chemotherapy. He paid up-front for his $140 round-trip bus tickets, $50-per-night accommodations and meals. Meanwhile, his wife had lost her income and had no insurance plan to fall back on.

Because the chemotherapy was available only in Winnipeg, the couple decided it made sense to leave the north. Bob took an early retirement. They sold their home and cottage, closed their business and left their friends behind. The move cost $7,000 in all.

The couple couldn't find an affordable home in Winnipeg so they moved to the outskirts. Their fuel costs added up as they drove into the city for treatments - but because they lived in the region, they could no longer claim these costs on their income tax.

When Bob's wife left the hospital, they discovered additional costs, like oral medications, dressings and supplies. One course of drugs alone was $1,000.

After two years of chemotherapy, Bob's wife died. He hasn't made many friends in the south and still feels very unsettled. As he remembers his experience, he wonders why no one was there to give them financial advice when they needed it most.