Local women thankful for community support for terminally ill sister
Online fundraiser raises more than $5,000 in one week
Kimberly Fitzgerald of Labrador City and her family are overwhelmed with the support their sister Natasha Etsell has been receiving from the community and beyond.
“We are not a family to ask for much, but, when you are in this situation, you do what you can to help the people you love,” Fitzgerald said via e-mail.
Etsell was diagnosed with brain cancer in November 2016. Her cancer is terminal.
Fitzgerald said the family started the Go Fund Me initiative out of necessity for their sister’s medical needs and other expenses associated with the cancer diagnosis.
“We want to ensure (Natasha’s) time is spent with the people she loves and has the best possible care available,” Fitzgerald said of her 45-year-old sister.
Etsell is the youngest of six siblings (sisters Pauline Rose, Sylvia Travers, Jackie Granter, Kimberly Fitzgerald and brother Jerry Rose).
She grew up in Labrador City but has been living in Sept Iles, Quebec, for more than 20 years.
The siblings’ parents Wilfred and Irene Etsell are both deceased. Wilfred Etsell worked with IOC for many years, and that’s why the siblings grew up in Labrador.
“Myself, Jackie and Sylvia still reside here, this is home,” Fitzgerald said of Labrador City.
Siblings Pauline Rose and Jerry Rose live in Ontario.
Etsell has two children – a daughter in her 20s and a 15-year-old son who lives with his mother.
Fitzgerald describes her sister as a “beautiful kind and gentle soul, living a very quiet and meager life.”
“She would give anyone anything or do what she could for them, sometimes doing without herself. She has not visited home for many years for financial reasons, but did come home this summer.”
Her sister’s recent visit to Labrador City was a great time for the family, Fitzgerald said.
“We look back now and it was almost as if it was meant to happen then. She had no idea of what was to come.”
What was to come was a terminal brain cancer diagnosis.
“Symptoms came on very suddenly and she quickly had to go to Quebec for radiation, where she spent some time. (Natasha) is back home now and receiving chemotherapy to try and alleviate some symptoms,” Fitzgerald said.
Her sister cannot alone, she said.
“We, as a family, are doing everything we can for one of us to be with her at all times. This is not easy but we will make it happen.”
The Go Fund Me account was set up on Dec. 26, 2016. By Jan. 1 it had raised more than $5,000. The goal is to raise $7,000.
Fitzgerald said the online fundraising drive has allowed the family to reach many people they could not have done on their own.
She has always known Labrador City was a small “help your neighbour” kind of town, be left Fitzgerald said, and, she added, in times of crisis or illness the people of Labrador City truly come together.
“The help we have received not only monetary, but air miles to help with flights etc. has been beyond amazing. At this time of year we never expected the generosity, which has been shown. There are no words to express how thankful we all are for the blessings for Natasha,” she said of the name given to the Go Fund Me account.
When asked how her sister is doing, Fitzgerald said, Natasha is tired, sick and weak but taking each day as it comes.
“There’s always a smile on her beautiful face,” she said.
Etsell has a word of advice for others that she relays through her sister.
Don’t ever take anything for granted the terminally ill woman would like people to keep in mind.
“Whether it’s the food you eat, the air you breathe or the sunshine on your skin, even the snowfalls and the rain, it’s all a gift,” Fitzgerald said of the message her sister shares with others.
Anyone wishing to donate to the fundraiser can do by visiting www.gofundme.ca and searching Blessings for Natasha.
Natasha Etsell, who grew up in Labrador City, was recently diagnosed with terminal cancer. Etsell’s sisters started a fundraising campaign on Go Fund Me, which has raised more than $5,000 in one week.