“Thanks to help from The AFC, I was able to beat cancer”
– Richard Lett
Stand-up Comedian, Actor
On February 28, 2008 I was diagnosed with Stage 2 Testicular Cancer. After the invasive surgery to remove the cancer, I would be treated with 20 rounds of intense chemotherapy. It was clear that I would be out of commission for almost a year. The good news was the prognosis for survival was good. The bad news is that I was a professional performer – a UBCP union actor and a stand-up comedian – and I had made my living on a performance by performance basis. Now I would be a full-time cancer patient. No show = no money.
I was grateful to be a Canadian because the treatment would be covered, but very concerned about how I could pay my bills. It was tough to do as a performer when I was in full health! The sense of fear and helplessness I experienced was overwhelming. They might be able to cure my cancer, but I would lose my apartment and go hungry before that could happen.
UBCP suggested that I try The AFC. I dialed the number and waited, knowing that I had no resources, too stunned and numb to even cry. I explained my situation and The AFC emailed me the form. I filled it out, showed my earnings as a comedian and the expense of rent and other things like groceries, and sent it back. Much to my surprise, I received notice within just a few days that my case was approved: a cheque for $1,500 would be in the mail within the next week and I would also receive assistance for the next six months. Then I did cry.
The fact that people on the other side of the country at The AFC would cover my daily expenses, so I could focus on the battle ahead, was amazing to me. My friends, family and I were, and are, incredibly grateful for The AFC’s support. I was, of course very ill, but my recovery was helped immeasurably by knowing that my rent and food was looked after: I could simply focus on getting well.
Not only did I make a full recovery and have my cancer pushed into remission, but when I could return to work I could do it without the burden of huge debt to try to make up. I could simply get back to making people laugh. Without the help of The AFC during my cancer treatment, my life would have been absolutely devastated.
The AFC allows those in the entertainment industry to feel safe and appreciated and helps them to return to the art they love. This is something all Canadians benefit from. The AFC made me feel that someone had my back during a very difficult time, and for that I am eternally grateful.