With his bucket full and his bucket list checked off, his wedding dance with his new bride completed, and a Christmas at home surrounded by his family, cancer patient Nick Vandenburg is now back in Prince Rupert preparing for chemotherapy.
On Jan. 15, Vandenburg found out that he had gained enough weight to start chemotherapy sessions which may extend his life, his wife Margo Vandenburg said. His radiation treatments in Prince George shrunk the tumour in his stomach enough to allow him to eat enough to gain some weight back. Chemotherapy was previously not an option for the life-long Prince Rupert man.
After The Northern View featured Nick’s struggles with cancer on Dec. 18, with a lack of medical coverage to supply medications, difficulties with transportation for out of town hospital stays, and Go Fund Me campaign money that had already been depleted to cover medical costs, the Prince Rupert community once again showed the support they are known for.
A total of $9,500 was raised from the start of the Go Fund Me Campaign to Jan. 15. The campaign initially started on Nov. 19 and the first $5,400 was quickly used up on necessary expenses. After that donations dried up. The family was in serious trouble for covering the costs of basic. When The Northern View reported on the family’s situation on Dec. 18, Nick was in hospital in Prince George battling pneumonia, lonely, and not allowed any visitors. Doctors told him life expectancy was three to six months, and Margo was trying to sneak daily visits through the hospital window for a few stolen minutes as Nick was transported to radiation treatment. The Prince Rupert community stepped in with another $4,100 in donations just before Christmas.
Margo said after getting married on Dec. 9, they were able to travel back to Prince Rupert in time for their planned Christmas Eve wedding dance which was ‘Zoomed’ over the internet to more than 35family and friends in Australia with more immediate family in Prince Rupert celebrating with them. Their first dance as a married couple was surrounded by love in their living room to Anne Murry’s ‘May I have this dance?’.
Items on Nick’s bucket list, like owning his first-ever suit, and spending a night in the Crest Hotel may soon come to fruition. A new suit was gifted to him, a gift card to the Crest to cover a night stay was donated, the Salvation Army assisted with donations, Gitmaxmak’ay Nisga’a Society helped them, two turkeys were given to them, food and Christmas presents for the children were given gifted.
Margo said she is especially thankful for an ‘angel from Heaven’ she knows only as Barbara K., who has sent donations to purchase work tools and equipment Margo needed, as well as money for daily necessary items such as groceries. Margo would love to meet this especially benevolent supporter but doesn’t know how to contact her. Margo said she has searched the internet and social media with no luck.
Sadly, the prediction of Margo losing her job was realized and she is no longer working. She is at home looking after Nick. Nick has now been set up with a home care nurse who visits daily and is easing the burden of looking after a loved one, Margo said.
The family is overwhelmed by the community’s generosity, with so many people assisting in different ways. The list of people to thank is extensive and she offers deep gratitude to everyone who has helped. Margo said she is extremely touched by the support from people she doesn’t know.
“It has been a roller coaster,” she said. “I want to thank all of Prince Rupert. There has been such an outpouring love.”
K-J Millar | Journalist
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