CORNWALL, Ontario - There was more than a pile of cash to celebrate at a recent fundraiser for a Cornwall woman holed up in a Toronto apartment awaiting a double-lung transplant.
While the bounty was significant - more than $5,500 was raised to help Alice Ferguson with living expenses related to the procedure - her daughter Shannon said watching the response from community members made her smile the most.
"We still have that bond," she said, describing a scene where old neighbours, sports teammates and others - people Shannon and her mom hadn't seen in years in some cases - swelled the ranks of well wishers at the Cornwall Civic Complex July 20. "It means so much just because it shows people really support us throughout this whole ordeal."
Alice is waiting for a fateful phone call from doctors 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.
Alice made the move to Toronto in June, because she must remain close to the hospital in the provincial capital where the 14-hour surgery will take place. She's currently staying with family.
Alice has 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.
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.
Shannon said her mom remains steadfast in her belief that good things are coming.
"She's in better shape than I am," she said with a laugh, adding her mother is on a strict diet and exercise regimen while waiting for the call for surgery. "If you saw her you wouldn't even know she was sick.
"It's still the same - and fortunately it hasn't gotten any worse."
Shannon singled out the efforts of Cornwall City Press and Tux Productions, in addition to other local businesses, that helped raise money for her mom.