Carlos and his kids smile for the camera. (Photos by Stephanie Lauren Photography & Design)

Vernon rallies around family battling throat cancer news

The Thomas family is one of the many that are financially vulnerable to unexpected personal crises.

It’s a story many know all too well: a friend or loved-one, seemingly healthy, is diagnosed with late-stage cancer.

It’s also a reality for one Vernon family.

Jocelyn and Carlos Thomas have lived in Vernon for about 14 years. Both are self-employed; small business-owners. Jocelyn is a hairdresser and Carlos is a well-known, self-employed painter of 12 years. Recently, they were hit with some bad news. After weeks of uncertainty, Carlos was diagnosed with a rare form of throat cancer.

Related: Cancer returns to young B.C. girl with a vengeance

Related: Vernon schools bump it up for cancer awareness

“About four months ago, my husband started feeling a little bit ill and then there’s the process of going to the doctor and not knowing what it is until it got serious and we went to the hospital and once he got his first CT scan and that showed a tumour in his throat,” said Jocelyn. “So we were in the ICU for about a week waiting for results and then at the end of the week we found out that it was indeed a throat cancer, but it was what they call a rare or a hidden throat cancer since its viral and it’s located on the base of the tongue. So now we’re just waiting because they don’t have the resources at the hospital here and it is a late stage [of cancer].”

Carlos is at the ICU at the Vernon Jubilee Hospital, waiting to be referred to a specialist so his family has an idea of what the course of action will be to fight the cancer.

This news is exacerbated by the fact that he is the main breadwinner in the family and is self-employed. This means he won’t be receiving a paycheck for sick leave and, with because he only has MSP coverage — the Medical Services Plan is the provincial health insurance program that covers health care benefits for B.C. residents — treatment and travel to the appropriate physicians are expected to be expensive.

“We are well protected, my husband and I, but with life insurance. So if anything happens and he was to pass or I was to pass, our kids are well protected but we aren’t protected for illness and that’s the hardest one because no one thinks about it,” said Jocelyn.

A 2017 study from investment firm Edward Jones revealed that many Canadians are financially vulnerable to unexpected personal financial crises, such as sudden illness or extended disability. While stats show that the majority of Canadians have some form of insurance, less than one-third are covered for serious unforeseen life events.

Hearing this sad news, a family friend started a gofundme page to support them. As of Wednesday morning, the page reached $8,160 in donations. The goal listed is $25,000.

Jocelyn’s sister, Jennifer Burton, also decided to take action. She, a registered massage therapist, decided to hold a massage fundraiser event next Saturday and Sunday from 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Taking place in unit 27 of Arise Chiropractic and Wellness in Vernon, she will be offering massages at an affordable price: $20+ for a 30-minute massage. Her family will also be bringing baked goods for sale by donation.

“It by donation so we’re not charging and everything that is made through the massage and the donations from the bake sale will go to my sister and brother-in-law,” she said. “It’s really nice, everyone has stepped up and I’m going to start a waiting list. All 20 slots filled within 24 hours.

Though fully booked, Burton still encourages people to stop by and say “hello.”

“Come out, have some treats, say ‘hi’ and sign the get well card,” said Burton. “I just want to do anything I can to help. They’ve both done so much for me so, if this event is successful then I do want to do it again either in December or January.”

Family and friends are doing all they can to help support the Thomas’ as best as possible while they remain in “limbo” uncertain what will happen next.

“The community support has just been amazing,” said Jocelyn. “You live every day and you say ‘hi’ to people and you talk to people and then this happens and it’s crazy the amount of messages and people who reach out. It’s pretty amazing and we’re very lucky.”

Related: Vernon’s Byrnes cycling for cancer

Related: Thousands of Canadian breast cancer patients could avoid chemo, according to study

Related: Childhood cancer hits home, again

To report a typo, email:
newstips@vernonmorningstar.com
.



Follow me on Twitter @BrieChar
Email me brieanna.charlebois@vernonmorningstar.com
Like us on Facebook.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

The news was exacerbated as the couple are both self-employed. (Photos by Stephanie Lauren Photography & Design)

Jocelyn’s sister Jennifer Burton is hosting a massage fundraiser next weekend in support of the family. (Photo Contributed)

Just Posted

Vernon protesters take BLM movement to Polson Park

A handful of demonstrators raised fists, signs in solidarity Friday

$30,000 over 30 weeks for local causes

Send us your good stories and you could win money for your favourite cause

Tagging Suicide Hill ‘Plan F’ for Vernon grad class

Portion of 30th Avenue hill may be closed for nearly three months if approved

Bear strolls into Vernon house

Conservation officers are searching for the bear, which entered a home in the Foothills area

More research required ahead of public drinking in Vernon

City staff recommend consultation with RCMP, Interior Health Authority before taking next steps

‘I’m pissed, I’m outraged’: Federal minister calls out police violence against Indigenous people

Indigenous Minister Marc Miller spoke on recent incidents, including fatal shooting of a B.C. woman

Kelowna Mountie who punched suspect identified, condemned by sister

‘How did he get away with this? How is this justifiable?’

Police watchdog investigating Lake Country incident

A man was taken to hospital after the June 3 incident

Community backlash over Black Lives Matter rally in Kelowna

Some members of Kelowna’s black community stated they don’t support Friday’s rally

PHOTOS: Anti-racism protesters gather in communities across B.C.

More protests are expected through the weekend

Pair accused of ‘horrific’ assault at Vancouver’s Oppenheimer Park at large

Police say Jason Tapp, 30, and Nicole Edwards, 33, did not show up to meet their bail supervisor this week

No charges to be laid against 22 northern B.C. pipeline protesters

Twenty-two people were arrested in February, but Crown has decided not to pursue charges

Most Read