It’s been a rough couple of months for Dennis and Lorraine Cronin. Dennis was diagnosed with colon cancer on Sept. 5, and since then he and his family has been coming to terms with this life altering information.
Lorraine grew up in Lake Cowichan and Dennis moved to the area over 30 years ago after the couple married.
The couple says it was hard to tell their kids, family members, and friends about the news.
“I think we hid for about three days,” said Lorraine. “Everything was so fast. He went in for a colonoscopy and when he got out the nurse had told us the doctor wants to talk to you over there. And it was kind of ‘oh crap’ because you knew.”
“They’re pretty blunt and straight forward,” added Dennis. “But they have to be.”
From there, Dennis was immediately instructed to have a chest x-ray and a virtual colonoscopy CT and an abdominal CT, was not allowed to eat for about three days, and then went into surgery on Sept. 24.
“It was like being in the eye of a storm with everything swirling around and you’re just lost trying to absorb it all,” said Lorraine. “When the doctor went in to remove the colon cancer he also removed 14 lymph nodes around the colon, 10 of them were cancerous and he found that the colon cancer has spread to his liver,” said Lorraine.
Dennis’ future is uncertain at this point.
“They would never cure me, but they can treat me,” said Dennis. “It depends on the first round of chemo and they’ll assess it from there.”
“Dr. Anderson has referred us to the oncologist in Duncan for treatment at the CVH,” said Lorraine. “I know Dr. Duta was hoping that there would be an operation on the liver, but because the tumours are dispersed instead of clustered they can’t.”
Dennis says that after recovering from the surgery his energy level has been pretty good and he has been out hunting with friends, but once the chemotherapy starts in the next week or so he might not be able to carry on with these kinds of activities.
“Dr. Anderson explained that chemo will be every two weeks. He (Dennis) will have a dose at the cancer clinic and he’ll come home with an infusion line attached to a bottle in a fanny pack where the chemo will be a slow drip for two days more,” explained Lorraine.
This cycle will repeat itself, with Dennis going in for a blood test the day before his chemotherapy treatment.
“And that blood test will determine if they’re going to give him chemo because of the blood counts and stuff,” said Lorraine.
Neither Dennis nor Lorraine are able to work at this time as Dennis can no longer work and Lorraine has had to take on caring for her husband full-time.
“He’s my full-time (job),” said Lorraine.
Luckily a trust fund has been set up through Island Savings Credit Union here in Lake Cowichan and this has helped the couple pay their mortgage, and Dennis is applying for CPP disability, but until that comes through they are struggling to pay bills, living expenses such as car repairs, and make sure they have food on the table.
That’s where Bertha Gravelle comes in. Gravelle says that as soon as she found out about Dennis’ condition, she helped to set up a committee that is dedicated to setting up fundraising events to help the couple in this hard time.
They have already had a hot dog sale outside of Country Grocer on Oct. 23, but there are other fundraising plans in the works, and many ways in which the community can help out.
“There are about 15 different things that they’re (the committee) are exploring,” said Gravelle. “We had a hot dog sale recently, which was very successful and the Davey Derby has been very generous; they came up and presented a cheque as well.”
A bottle drive will be happening in Saywell Park on Nov. 17 between 8:30 a.m. and 3 p.m. Returnable drink containers of any kind can be dropped off at the park, and there will be a truck available for pick up if individuals cannot make it down themselves. There will also be two drop off locations before the bottle drive, one at 81 Larch and the other at 194 Elk.
Then there is the trust fund at Island Savings. Ask that your donations go to the Dennis Cronin trust fund, account number 224-5785.
“We have in the works, I’m just waiting for more information, we’re going to be having a firewood sale as well,” said Gravelle. “Once I get more details on that I’ll let everybody know. And there is also a raffle in the works.”
A Facebook page has been set up, which is open to the public and can be found by searching Dennnis Cronin. For those that want to keep informed about upcoming fundraising events, this is the perfect way to stay connected.
“Walter VanHell and his son are in the process of creating a web page,” said Lorraine. “It will show all the different aspects of what his (Dennis’) life is like.”
The Cronin’s are very grateful for the generosity and support they have already received.
“It’s very humbling,” said Lorraine through tears. “Everybody helping, it’s just amazing. Small towns are known for what they do and this one is it. It’s really hard to express just how grateful we are to everybody. The generosity from everybody, it just overwhelms you.”