Our friend Twyla has faced a series of life-altering challenges this past year. She has met all of them with great courage and grace, but still faces enormous difficulties in her life.
Her story starts in 2002 when her husband Larry contracted a West Nile like virus. He was critically ill for almost a year. The fall-out from his illness was that he never fully regained his health or his ability to work as before.
As his was the primary financial support for the family, it became more and more difficult to maintain their living standard on Twyla’s salary. Twyla had to pick up some part-time work on weekends as well. Then, in 2004, Twyla herself was diagnosed with auto-immune hepatitis, necessitating drug therapy for the rest of her life As well about 3 years ago (2009), the family had to downsize to a smaller house.
The story continues….the past year.
In the spring of 2011, Twyla lost the job that she had held for over 20 years and shortly thereafter she was diagnosed with breast cancer.
She had a successful lumpectomy in June, and was awaiting treatment protocol, when Larry was taken to hospital in August 2011 and diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.
Tragically, he died nine days later.
With no time to grieve his loss, Twyla’s radiation treatments started in September 2011; the chemotherapy in January 2012. She continues to have residual joint pain from the treatments.
Throughout all of these challenges, Twyla has been working long days in various part-time jobs, none of which pay very well and all of which involve gardening – manual labour and heavy lifting. Meeting her financial obligations has been a struggle with the seasonal nature of the work.
Larry and Twyla shared a bond that few of us are lucky enough to experience; they truly were best friends. As well, throughout their life together, they shared their friendship and generosity with many people.
Last year, following Larry’s death a group of close friends got together and decided that they would like to return the couple’s kinship and kindness. In what was a real testament to their shared loyalty to Twyla and Larry, this small group of people managed to raise enough money to pay Twyla’s mortgage for twelve months, relieving her of at least one burden!
A year has passed and Twyla continues to strive to regain some balance and stability. She would like to stay in her home. Another change at this time would be emotionally devastating, not to mention the wear and tear caused by relocating. She has considered building a rental unit in her basement, which would provide additional income apart from her earnings. She has applied to some home renovation shows (Mike Holmes and Income Property) but, to date, she has not heard back.
The bottom line is that she cannot do this on her own. Her friends have once more stepped up to the plate, and a group of us are organizing to Help Twyla Stay in her Home. Our project goal is to finance and build Twyla’s rental apartment.
We know for certain that Twyla will ‘pay it forward’ once she gets re-established. As a gardener, all she needs is a seed to help get her feet firmly planted on the ground again.