Wellspring Advocate in Central Alberta
Brett Martin is a very enthusiastic Wellspring Community Connector. At Wellspring, Community Connectors are a vital part of the strategy for spreading the word about Wellspring across the province.
“Community Connectors are volunteers with a lived cancer experience or a caregiving experience, who are invited to be a voice for Wellspring within their remote, rural or Indigenous communities. This network makes sense, as we believe that people who are local, are the experts and have the best rapport with their own communities. They can help us understand the needs, and determine how best Wellspring can serve the population there,” said Rebecca Perkins, Wellspring’s Southern Alberta Lead. “Together we want to co-create cancer support communities throughout Alberta. Community Connectors will help us reach people across the province with the important message … if you have cancer – you have Wellspring.”
Brett did not know about Wellspring when he was diagnosed with multiple myeloma in 2014 while living in Red Deer. Luckily, he had an amazing partner, his wife Linda, who helped him immensely in his journey. “We don’t have a lot of supports here for cancer patients. Fortunately, I had my wife and she has been really great. She was an RN, so she is very tuned into what patients need, and she was particularly good at speaking up for me, when I wasn’t really saying what I was feeling.” said Brett.
At age 60, Brett was diagnosed with multiple myeloma. He went through high dose chemotherapy and had a stem cell transplant. Doctors told him he had four years to live – not news you expect to hear in your 60s. This is a very moving video Brett made to depict his experience.
Presently, Brett is strong and well, and was even able to return to his work as a Chartered Accountant. “I don’t know why I was so focused on returning to work. I think I thought that if I could return to work then everything would be okay,” he said. But what he found was that he had changed, and he now valued time with his family and other things that made him happy, more than work, so after ten months he wrapped up a tax season and retired. Now, along with travel and other volunteer commitments he is happy to turn some attention to his role as a Wellspring Community Connector.
“I’m very gung-ho about my goal to get the word out about Wellspring,” he said, noting that his own oncologist in Red Deer had not heard of the organization. “This is a very important support for people who have cancer, and when I am passionate about something I have no problem speaking out about it.”
Brett even invented a digital display device that he hopes to place in waiting rooms in the Central Alberta Cancer Centre, that will run a PowerPoint about Wellspring.
“If you ask my why I care, it’s because every once in a while you find out that what you did actually made an impact. That’s why I’m passionate about volunteering for Wellspring, you get the feeling that you are appreciated, and what you are doing makes an impact,” he said.