Skip to content

VIDEO: Maple Ridge cancer patient raising money for others to retrieve eggs before treatment

Emma Bennett was shocked at the cost and hopes to help others who can’t afford to pay
Emma Bennett, who described her hair as her “prized possession”, just shaved her head two weeks ago after deciding she no longer wanted to watch it gradually thin and fall out due to her chemotherapy treatments. She went live online with the support of 55 of her friends and family as her head was shaved. “It was an emotional time,” she said. (Emma Bennett/Special to The News)

Emma Bennett was shocked with a Hodgkin’s lymphoma diagnosis just before Christmas.

But, when it was recommended by doctors that, because of her young age, she undergo an egg retrieval process to be able to have children in the future, the 23-year-old was shocked at the price and the lack of coverage by the provincial health plan.

Bennett was lucky to have help from her parents, who footed the bill upfront. But others are not as lucky as her, she noted.

So, the Maple Ridge resident is holding a fundraiser to give others, who do not have the financial resources – egg retrieval for women who are diagnosed with cancer.

(Video shows Bennett, who described her hair as her “prized possession”, having her head shaved two weeks ago after deciding she no longer wanted to watch it gradually thin and fall out due to her chemotherapy treatments. She went live online with the support of 55 of her friends and family as her head was shaved. “It was an emotional time,” she said.)

Bennett, who was born in England but has been a Maple Ridge resident for the past 14 years, said her diagnosis came as a huge shock after she woke up on Monday, Dec. 12, with a lump in her neck.

She went to a walk-in clinic that day where the doctor asked her if she had any other symptoms like sudden, unexplained weight loss, night sweats, or a fever.

Other than the sudden lump, Bennett felt fine. He sent her for an immediate ultrasound in Coquitlam that same day and later informed her he was booking her for an ultrasound-guided biopsy and a CT scan.

The following day she went to work and felt fine until the mid-afternoon when she started having shooting pains down her right arm.

She texted her mother, a nurse, who told her that they should go to the hospital.

They would end up going to Eagle Ridge in Port Moody where doctors immediately performed an ultrasound and put in a requisition for a CT scan as soon as possible, for what they now told Bennett and her mother, was potentially lymphoma.

This was the first time they heard a possible diagnosis and both were taken aback.

The next day Bennet received a call in the morning from Royal Columbian Hospital asking her to come in that night for the CT scan. She went in at 7 p.m. and had the results by 8:30 p.m. – it was a lymphoma and now doctors had to determine what kind.

She was admitted that night into the hospital and within five hours she had “pretty much every single test you could possibly get done”, she explained.

By Friday, Dec. 16, she discovered it was indeed Hodgkin’s lymphoma and because the tumour was actually in her chest and pressing against her trachea, a tube-like structure in the neck and upper chest that transports air to and from the lungs, they kept her in the hospital until Dec. 20 to make sure the tumour did not get any bigger.

As she was getting ready to leave, the doctors recommended egg retrieval.

“I was like, OK, I will do that. In the future, that’s my plan because I want kids,” she said, noting that she wanted to be on the safe side in case something bad did happen during the chemotherapy treatments that would damage her eggs and prevent her from conceiving children in the future.

She went to Olive Fertility Centre in Vancouver where she found out that not only is the procedure not covered by MSP, but that it would cost her parents $4,400 upfront.

“Thankfully my parents were there to be able to help me,” said the cancer patient, who would like it to be covered in the future for other young women who have been diagnosed with the disease.

RELATED: Can cancer blood tests live up to their promise of saving lives?

“If it’s someone who’s doing it because they are trying to have kids, that’s their choice to do that. But for someone who’s just got diagnosed with cancer, it’s almost like there should be that option from the government to be able to cover it,” said Bennett.

She was in touch with a new charitable foundation called Cancer In Common, whose founder, Brooklyn Paterson, wanted to help Bennett by giving her $1,200.

However, rather than taking the money, Bennett decided she wanted to give back and raise money for the foundation instead.

A fundraiser planned for Sunday, May 28 at Breakaway Grill at Planet Ice in Maple Ridge is already sold out.

Bennett still needs donations, though, for a silent auction and raffle.

ALSO: B.C. breast cancer survivor to help others with cost of removing lymphoma-linked implants

She believes nobody undergoing cancer treatments should have to worry about money.

Currently, she is undergoing chemotherapy treatments every two weeks for three to four hours at a time. She has finished five of eight sessions and her last session is scheduled for April 14.

On Monday, Bennett underwent a mid-way cat scan which showed that her tumour has shrunk more than half of its original size.

The therapy has been hard on Bennett who has been struggling with vomiting and nausea in between treatments. And, she said, she doesn’t go out very much right now because a cold or virus will send her right back to the hospital.

“There are so many little things,” she said of undergoing treatment for cancer.

“It’s not just physically hard. It’s mentally hard,” she said.

To donate to Bennett’s fundraiser email

Have a story tip? Email:
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Colleen Flanagan

About the Author: Colleen Flanagan

I got my start with Black Press Media in 2003 as a photojournalist.
Read more