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Esquimalt Legion to help cancer victim

May 03 2012

The Esquimalt legion has stepped up to pay for nutritional supplements for a woman with two types of cancer who had her request for assistance rejected by the provincial government.

“This lady needs some help, and the Victoria Remembrance Day Committee and ourselves were discussing it this morning, and we’ve decided whatever the lady needs, the lady will get,” said Doug Grant, secretary manager of the Esquimalt Legion branch.

Sharen Gammon, 53, was diagnosed with blood cancer in 2000 and breast cancer in 2010.

She needs a double mastectomy to prevent her breast cancer from spreading, and her doctor has recommended nutritional supplements to boost her strength before surgery.

The government has rejected paying for those supplements, which cost about $245 a month, and Gammon says she can’t afford them on her disability benefits.

Gammon’s military background, including a previous job as a clerk at CFB Esquimalt, led the Legion to hold an emergency meeting Wednesday and approve the financial aid, Grant said.

He said it was disappointing the provincial government wouldn’t help the woman, and noted there were other Legion members facing similar difficulties with the government. The Legion steps up in as many cases as it can, he said.

“We’re not here to get a pat on the back, we’re here to help the lady,” Grant said.

Social Development Minister Stephanie Cadieux said Wednesday her office would review Gammon’s case after a request from her MLA, Esquimalt-Royal Roads New Democrat Maurine Karagianis.

“All they are doing is a review, which gives no security to my constituent, who is living with serious illness,” Karagianis said.

While it’s wonderful to see the Legion provide financial support, it’s the provincial government that should be paying, she said.

“I do think it is a bit of a tragic statement that a community organization like the legion has to step up where the government has failed to do its job,” Karagianis said.

rshaw@timescolonist.com

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