Becky Trussell: impassioned Wellspring member, program leader & donor
Becky Trussell was Dr. Rebecca Trussell, a respected Calgary physician specializing in pediatric endocrinology for 25 years. She was also a wife, busy mother of two, avid researcher, budding photographer, and an extraordinary role model to many in the medical world.
Then one day, cancer rocked her world.
“I was very committed and devoted to my career and family. But cancer doesn’t ask – may I come in? It just barges into your world and you are forced to reckon with it,” said Becky, looking back on the day she received the life changing diagnosis of uterine cancer.
Becky’s treatment included surgery, several rounds of chemo, and years of follow up steroids. It was incredibly challenging, but she summoned optimism and humour to push through the hard days.
“I dressed for chemo treatments! I wore dramatic capes, sequins on two occasions, and yes, even an elf suit on my last treatment day before Christmas!” she said. For Rebecca, this was survival mode, and indeed, survive she did. But though she achieved full physical recovery, some parts of her personality were never quite the same.
“I returned to work – too early – just six weeks after treatment, and I wasn’t myself. I was a fraction of myself. I was not the enthusiastic, energetic mentor, teacher and clinician I had been. This ‘new person’ suffered with terrible fatigue, irritability, depression,” she said. “After three years of suffering and blaming myself, I retired, and it was only then that I could begin to seek the help I needed to reclaim myself, or at least find a new version of myself that I and others could love.”
That’s when Becky found her way to Wellspring.
“I knew about Wellspring because one of my colleagues had a brother who was a founder of Wellspring, who also had cancer. I just never envisioned myself needing to go there. I suspect that no one has ‘cancer support’ highlighted in their bucket list,” she said, laughing.
But for Becky, arriving at Wellspring was finding the path back to herself.
“Wellspring was an environment of kindness and caring – there aren’t many spaces like this in the world. It was almost palpable for me – I felt totally wrapped in it every time I came through the door. That has been my ongoing sense. I was in a place that was safe and uplifting,” she said.
After a few years of regularly attending the Tuesday Tea program, Becky was invited to lead a similar community program for women that calls Wellspring home, and there she found a tremendous sense of value; a deepening of healing that can only come from the act of giving back.
“It felt natural to be in a group of women and I was thrilled to be a co-leader with another creative and delightful member, Dorothy Mackintosh,” she said. “We’d gather in this room – this safe, loving space, and we were all the same in that we all belonged. People would open up and the sharing would pour out. It felt like a luxury to me to be among these wonderful human beings. We were all finding hope as we rose together out of the suffering.”
When the pandemic shifted programs to an online community, Becky missed the joy of being together in centres terribly, but her love of Wellspring has never waned, and she continues to participate online and by donating to an organization she calls ‘magic’ and ‘life changing.’
“It’s not a question of can I give to Wellspring – it’s how quickly can I get to the bank! How fast can I donate?” she said.
“Why would I not give to a place that is so full of joy, peace and healing? It’s a community that has given me and so many others – so much comfort and meaning. Wellspring is life changing and by that I mean, for me, it gave me my life back. You can’t put a price on that – it’s gold,” she said.
“I can think of no other place for an individual cancer patient, their caregiver, and their family to be where there is such love, serenity, understanding, peace and acceptance. Wellspring has changed many lives, and I am one. I am forever grateful.”
– Becky Trussell