Honorary Family: What it’s Really Like in Humber’s Cancer Care Program

September 5, 2017

By Caroline Alexander, Oncology Nurse at Humber River Hospital

As I sit down to write this, I imagine you reading this in the comfort of your own home. I’m picturing you sitting at your kitchen table, maybe you can hear your family members in the next room, or see a photo of them nearby.

It’s fitting, because I often describe our clinic as a family. Patients, nurses, loved ones, doctors, volunteers…it feels like a family. We lift each other up when we are down. We lean on each other when we need to. We laugh together—rejoicing in each other’s victories. And we cry together. It is our shared experience around cancer that brings us together.

Let me introduce you to two gentlemen who really define the sense of family we have here. Joe is a young, salt-of-the-earth fellow I affectionately call a ‘wildman’. Paul is a successful, polished businessman and grandfather. It’s almost impossible to imagine these men having a close, supportive friendship in virtually any other situation. But, as I often say, cancer is the great equalizer.

Cancer Care Program

Paul (left) and Joe (right) swap stories while receiving their chemotherapy treatments. Joe was uncharacteristically sporting a Penguins jersey during the 2017 Stanley Cup Finals.


When they sit together, as they have almost every week for the last six years while they receive their chemo treatments, they chat about their lives. Turns out they are both massive Maple Leaf fans. Paul gave Joe some amazing tickets to a game and it was a gift that Joe will never, ever forget. Joe knows the names of all six of Paul’s grandchildren and delights in hearing their stories and seeing their photos.

Cancer Care Program Joe

Joe often arrives to his chemotherapy appointments representing the Toronto Maple Leafs.


I can say with all my heart that every single staff person here feels as connected to our patients as I do. I’ve been here since before we moved to the new Hospital, as have many of my colleagues. And let me tell you, heartwarming stories like Paul and Joe’s happen every day here at Humber River.

Time and time again, we hear that the care our patients receive is excellent. Because of your support, we are running a first-rate facility where people feel safe, welcome and cared for—and it’s right in our community. Every single gift to our hospital means money is coming in to give people state-of-the-art care closer to home.

Please, will you make a special gift to our Hospital today? Every gift helps in our Cancer Clinic and across the Hospital. You make Humber a place of help, hope and love!

Yours truly,

Caroline Alexander,
Oncology Nurse and a Big Maple Leafs Fan like Joe and Paul!



Cancer Care Program

Nurse Caroline Alexander and Paul share a laugh in Humber’s Cancer Care clinic.