LUNG TRANSPLANT: Cornwall mom enlists the help of her daughter ahead of surgery

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From left are Alice and Shannon Ferguson.

CORNWALL, Ontario - For years Alice Ferguson, a single mom who also balanced owning her own business as well as volunteer work, doted on her daughter Shannon.

If Shannon needed something, especially a listening ear, mom always found the time to be there for her.

Now it's Alice who needs support from Shannon, because the biggest challenge of the elder Ferguson's life is happening right now - and it involves life itself.

Alice is currently in a Toronto apartment, waiting for a fateful phone call from medical professionals that could signal the green light for a double-lung transplant.

Alice was diagnosed in March 2012 with chronic hypertension pulmonary fibrosis. In short, the elasticity of her lungs is failing, which leads to shortness of breath and other medical complications that ultimately led doctors to suggest her best course of treatment would be a transplant.

While such a diagnosis might be earth-shattering for many, it was the constant positive attitude of Shannon that saw Alice change her outlook on the future.

"We're very, very close," said Alice. "I'm a very emotional person, but she's been able to keep me grounded."

No kidding.

When Alice was first diagnosed, Shannon said her mom immediately leapt to the Internet to learn what she could about the ailment - which understandably left Alice feeling down.

Cue, Shannon.

"I told her to smarten up. 'You're not going to die. It's 2012 - people will help you,'" Shannon recounts. "She kind of got down, her spirit was really broken. But I'm a super-positive person."

Alice made the move to Toronto last month, because she must remain close to the hospital in the provincial capital where the 14-hour surgery will take place.

She's been told to prepare herself for a lengthy wait - between six and nine months is the average, though she has heard stories of some waiting more than two years for a suitable donor.

In the meantime, costs are building up. While the province covers the costs of medical bills, cost of living expenses and other expenditures associated with making the move and leaving work behind are mounting.

Some have forecast such a move to Toronto for a procedure of this kind can create $10,000 in expenses.

Once again, Shannon bolted into action to help her mom. She has organized a benefit night at the Cornwall Civic Complex July 20 at 7 p.m. Tickets for the event are $35 and patrons will be treated to music, food and messages from guest speakers.

There will also be a silent auction.

Shannon said, if anything else, karma is on her side.

"My mom was involved in everything," she said. "She was a founding member of Women's Entrepreneurs, she was on the Rotary Club and Team Cornwall.

"Now the community can give to someone who has really given something to Cornwall."

Tickets for the event are available at Shortline Convenience Store on Second Street West, as well as Sheconnex on Cumberland Street. They can also be purchased at the door, and Shannon has created a bank account where donations can be submitted. Contact her at 514-622-4896 for more details.

Geographic location: Ontario, Toronto

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