Funds raised for terminally ill doctor

by Derek Cornet

People from across the Northwest and around the world continue to express their support for a Meadow Lake doctor and her dying wish to make one final trip home.

When Sandra Quiring first met South African-born Dr. Jolene Titus, little did she know they’d become best friends. Titus, 35, arrived in Canada in May of 2012 and, after a short period in Saskatoon, moved to Meadow Lake to begin her career as a physician at the Meadow Lake Primary Health Centre. That’s where Quiring and Titus met, and it was Quiring, along with other friends and supporters, who recently launched an online fundraiser to help Titus return home after she was diagnosed with terminal cancer.

“Jolene is like a sister to me,” Quiring said when interviewed early last week. “That’s why I set up the fundraiser. She wants to go back to South Africa and I want to help her get there.”

In December of 2012, Titus was diagnosed with adenocarcinoma of the stomach and immediately underwent surgery followed by six months of chemotherapy and radiation. She returned to work in September of last year before being admitted to hospital again in December and told about the severity of her condition.

With no medical means available to cure her from her ailments, Titus expressed her desire to return home to South Africa with her husband, Kevin and their two children, Keenan and Kirsten, where they will surround themselves with the love and support of their family. Quiring started the fundraiser at www.gofundme.com/jolene-titus earlier this month. As of Jan. 13, close to $64,000 of the $150,000 goal had been achieved. The trip comes with such a hefty price tag because it also covers the cost of flight paramedics and equipment. Last week, however, members of the Saskatchewan Medical Association’s Medical Benevolent Society decided they’d foot the entire bill to get Titus home. She, along with her family, arrived safely in Cape Town, South Africa on the weekend.

Meanwhile, the online fundraiser will continue, so the society can be repaid and continue to help other doctors in need.
Quiring went on to say she’s been receiving emails, phone calls and text messages from people all around the world expressing well wishes for Titus.

“Jolene has touched many lives all over the world through her career as a physician,” she stated in an online message. “She has held babies as they took their first breath and been with patients as they have taken their final ones. She has saved countless lives and has even held a beating heart in her hands. She has witnessed many miracles throughout her career.”

Among those to contribute to the fundraiser is retired Meadow Lake doctor Merv Johnson. He donated $250 to the cause, adding Titus is a good doctor who has a big heart.

“She’s a gem,” Johnson said. “She’s just a really great person and a real fighter.”

Johnson also said it’s easy for people with cancer to lose their will to go on and slip into depression, but Titus hasn’t given up the fight.

“That’s something that contributes to her strong faith,” he said.

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