All timeline stories.

The First Vo-Pak


One day, Doreen was approached by a nurse named Christine Leblanc. She was concerned about a cancer patient in her oncology unit, a young man, who was 19 years old. She described him as almost homeless. She said that he wasn’t always coming in for his treatments and was in need of some positive changes in his life. He had scraps of paper hanging out of his pockets and a tattered old bag of some kind. Doreen introduced herself to the young man, and they chatted. When asked how things were going, he responded with “Ok, but I hate coming here.” [...]

The First Vo-Pak2019-08-29T12:38:54-04:00

The Lost Tribe


The Adolescent and Young Adult (AYA) Oncology Program was set up by McGill University under the direction of oncologist, Dr. Petr Kavan. This emerging cancer population (aged 15-44), was a group Dr. Kavan called “The Lost Tribe”. He named it so because of the uniqueness of this cancer population, their distinct needs and the services that were lacking for them. The AYA McGill Program was designed to meet the unique needs of youth by bringing in specialists and resources to help them through their whole cancer experience.

The Lost Tribe2019-08-29T12:37:34-04:00

The Gift of Art


Following Debbie’s idea, we also asked other people touched by cancer to submit their own works of art. The money raised from selling the note cards went to make holiday baskets for delivery to hospital patients who were too ill to go home for Christmas Eve. This is a service we will proudly provide every year to our partnered hospitals, as well as several palliative care residences. Patients tell us there is such a special feeling when you receive something so beautiful and so unexpected from a perfect stranger.

The Gift of Art2019-08-29T12:36:31-04:00

Debbie’s Artwork


One contest winner, a young woman named Debbie, changed VOBOC forever. She’d won tickets to attend a figure skating competition. She was extremely grateful, as she was able to take along her youngest son to share in the experience, which was once her passion. Debbie was curious about how VOBOC could afford to give away all these expensive prizes. “You must need money or help – I can help.” she said. She told Doreen that she was a painter and that she reproduced some of her paintings to make note cards. She generously offered to let us use one of her [...]

Debbie’s Artwork2019-08-29T12:35:39-04:00

VOBOC’s Presence in Hospitals


Within hospitals, VOBOC soon became known as a resource and a means to have such requests granted. We were able to respond to the needs of patients through the collective effort of countless family members, friends, volunteers, hospital staff, the community and fundraising initiatives. Our goal was to make sure that we could and would fulfill every Special Request while still offering hundreds of patients’ fun, free Venturing Out Diversions every year.

VOBOC’s Presence in Hospitals2019-08-29T12:34:33-04:00

VOBOC Begins Granting Special & Last Requests in Palliative Care


The success of the Venturing Out Diversion’s program led to the launching of a new free service as VOBOC began to receive demands to grant special requests for patients in palliative care. We received a request from the medical team of a 42-year-old patient to pay for her ambulance ride to and from the hospital so that she could simply go home for a few hours. In spite of being terribly ill, she wanted to go home to put her papers in order and say goodbye to her father. She didn’t want her father to come to the hospital because he [...]

VOBOC Begins Granting Special & Last Requests in Palliative Care2019-08-29T12:33:39-04:00

VOBOC Contest Box


VOBOC offered simple treats and diversions, such as restaurant gift certificates and weekend getaways. Patients completed a free ballot and placed it into the VOBOC Contest Box at any of the adult sites of the McGill University Health Center (MUHC) hospitals. Winners were then selected by random draw.

VOBOC Contest Box2019-08-29T12:33:02-04:00

The First of Its Kind


VOBOC Becomes a registered charitable organization – the first one of its kind in Canada. VOBOC’s mission was to provide all adult cancer patients with the opportunity to take a break from their illness. At the time, we knew we couldn’t change the final outcome for patients – but there was a definite joy and comfort in knowing that we could help patients create their own new memories for themselves as well as their families inside their cancer experience.

The First of Its Kind2019-08-29T12:32:02-04:00

VOBOC Taking Shape


Soon after, Doreen stayed laying the foundations of what would become VOBOC. As the idea took shape, dear friends like Josée Legault, Gwen Vineberg, Dr. Ina Cummings, jumped on to form the first board of directors. Dr. Henry Shibata became our medical advisor.

VOBOC Taking Shape2019-08-29T12:30:02-04:00
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