About Us

About Us

Our mission & vision for Cancer Crossing

The idea for Cancer Crossing originated with Dr. Tse Li Luk, who technically died and came back to life following a stroke, which left him temporarily paralyzed and speechless.  Among those who heard his life-changing story was a group of friends and acquaintances, who came to share his passion for publishing a book that explores life’s meaning as seen through the eyes of those with cancer.  Cancer was chosen because, for many, they have the luxury of time to evaluate what’s important to them and to change how they live their lives.

In the book, 17 cancer patients, physicians and caregivers share their stories with brutal candour.  Their stories are inspiring, sometimes heart-wrenching, but there is a life lesson in each one.  The book affords all of us an opportunity to examine our own lives, what motivates us and what is truly important.

Through its black and white photography, the book also captures a sense of the character and inner strength of each one of the individuals who share their stories.  Some of the images are a living memory of those who have passed away.

There is another element to the book.  It is a means of supporting those dealing with the daily challenges of living with a disease that hijacks their lives and often imposes financial hardship.  100% of the net proceeds from the sale of the book, and 100% of donations received are to go specifically to cancer patients.



Cancer Crossing acknowledges that cancer patients experience additional expenses as a result of their treatment.  These expenses include such things as prescription drugs, travel from rural areas to larger centres where most cancer treatment is provided, bath and shower supportive devices, prosthetics, home oxygen, parking, child care and other medical devices such as compression garments and wheelchair rentals.

The Canadian universal health care system does not cover 100% of a person’s medical expenses.  Even with private insurance, there are limits in both particular expenses that are covered and annual dollar limits on coverage.  Furthermore, cancer treatment tends to span a long period of time, so absence from work or an inability to work becomes an issue with strong financial consequences.  Government benefits such as EI are limited in the percentage of income paid and the time for which it is paid out.  Company sick benefits are generally intended for a short period of time and therefore run out rather quickly as well.  Self-employed people do not qualify for EI and therefore lose income as they need to scale back their business while in treatment.

The purpose of Cancer Crossing is to provide financial relief to cancer patients and their families while active treatment is underway.

In order to accomplish this goal, Cancer Crossing has self-published a book titled ‘Cancer Crossing’, which is a compilation of stories of cancer patients, caregivers and healthcare professionals, accompanied by touching black and white photographs of the subjects, bringing their stories further to life.  The purpose of the book is twofold; for those who buy it, there are seventeen short stories detailing seventeen different points of view of the cancer journey.  The stories all offer a form of encouragement for those struggling – not just with cancer, but now struggling with life in general.  Net proceeds from book sales go directly to cancer patients residing in Canada who have established to Cancer Crossing that they are struggling financially.

Cancer Crossing also accepts donations and holds fundraising events to build the patient support fund.  100% of all donations received go to the patient fund and net proceeds from fundraising events also go to the patient fund.



To provide financial relief to Canadian cancer patients who incur expenses related to the diagnosis and subsequent treatmaent of cancer not covered by the universal health care system or private insurance and who establish financial need.

Committee Members

Dr. Tse Li Luk
I often ask myself whether being a family physician is enough to define me.  No, I am also a father, a husband and friends to many.  It was not until 2006 after my second stroke that I was told that I had stopped breathing and was blue, and after I was resuscitated, I woke up to find that I have lost the ability to see, speak and walk.  It was after a near full recovery that I began to search earnestly for  the meaning of both “knowing thyself” and to strive to “bear fruit”, as a Christian.  I have decided that part of my life should be dedicated to leaving a legacy; one that my family would be proud of, and that, hopefully, will be passed down for many generations to come.  Cancer Crossing is borne with that idea in mind.  I was a keen athlete when I was young and was offered the opportunity to be an Olympian.  I am also an avid photographer.  One of my pictures was giving to the Queen during her visit to Manitoba in 2010.  I received the Order of Manitoba in 2013.  However, these are not as important as the Cancer Crossing project.  This book will hopefully change the lives of readers and those around them.  We all will die; but the stories are about how we should live.

“You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last”.

John 15:16 New International Version (NIV).

Jennifer Zyla
Committee member
I have a range of interests and experience. My professional career has been split between non-profit pursuits (primarily arts administration) and managing Nu West Decorating, an active sub-trade in Manitoba’s construction industry which I own with my husband, Brian. I was Chair of the committee managing the gymnasium expansion of the Linden Woods Community Centre which has been a huge boost to that neighbourhood.I also have a keen interest in politics. I enjoy working and volunteer pursuits. It’s challenging and full of camaraderie which I find life-giving. I joined the Cancer Crossing team steadfastly believing in the project.  As a cancer patient since 2008, I know full well the extra costs associated with cancer treatment, which on the surface seem small and easily absorbed, but they do add up, and I believe there needs to be a program that lives at the grass roots and serves at the grass roots, helping to cover these costs. I look forward to Cancer Crossing being the vehicle to assist with these expenses, bringing relief at a stressful time. I am mother to Melissa and Trevor, both young adults, whom I hope will find fulfillment in community service throughout their lifetime.
Sherry Heppner
Committee member
A beautiful friend died of breast cancer in 1997. She was 34 years of age. I still have her letter in which she first shared her diagnosis. She ended this particular note with, “Just wanted to let you know that I am fine and doing terrific“.  She tolerated no bumbling sympathetic fools. She lived the mantra of “attitude is everything and everything is attitude”.  My career has surprised many, including me – I have been employed in the financial services industry for 30+ years.  Fully admitting that I am slow to discover that which is truly important, in the year 2000, I entered the world of caregiving for my elderly parents. Since then, nothing has been the same and I echo the advice that “everybody has gone through something that has changed them in a way that they could never go back to the person they once were”.  Within the next year, I look forward with great excitement to entering a new phase of life as an advocate for older adults and to contributing, in any and every way possible, to the success of Cancer Crossing and, by so doing, bettering the day-to-day lives of those who have cancer.  “For I know the plans I have for you”, declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future”.  Jeremiah 29:11 – New International Version (NIV) .
Brenda Hudson
Committee member
Like most families, mine has been touched by cancer: my granddad, aunts, cousins and husband have all fought battles with the disease. I am lucky that I was able to retire in July 2013 in good health. I was seeking an opportunity to volunteer and heard about Cancer Crossing at a presentation to the Manitoba Camera Club, which I have belonged to for nearly a decade.I enjoy photography, having worked as an editor and layout designer for a local newspaper. I later went back to school, graduating from Red River College with a Library Technician certificate. I spent 18 years indexing the debates and proceedings of the Legislative Assembly of Manitoba, followed by seven years as manager of Hansard.In my spare time, I enjoy reading and knitting.
Wendy Stephenson
committee member
Both of my parents died of cancer – my dad when he was 49, my mom when she was 90. You learn to live life to its fullest, without regrets.  I’ve always been drawn to photography.  I had my first camera at the age of five.  Wanting to pursue a career as a professional photographer, I took a course as part of the journalism program at the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology in Calgary.  But my life didn’t go as planned.  Instead, I ended up spending nearly 30 years as a newspaper reporter and editor.  I got to meet many interesting people, from the 9th wealthiest person in the world to politicians, actors and average people making a difference.  I’ve written two books, both non-fiction. I continue to use my writing abilities, but I am no longer working in the media.  I work at The Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce.  I am still passionate about photography and have combined that with another passion – travel.  I am lucky to have travelled the world, from China, Japan and Taiwan to Italy, Iceland and South Africa, plus many more countries along the way. .
Chris Ford
Committee member
I have been interested in photography since I was a teenager, when I received a Kodak Instamatic camera on my 14th birthday. Most of my photos were taken on holidays or when my interests turned to motorcycles and cars. When I got married and started raising a family, they became my most important subjects. My exposure to cancer started several years ago when my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. Her surgery was successful, but there has always been that nagging “what if” in the back of your mind. Things hit home for me in 2010 when my wife was diagnosed with breast cancer. During the time of her surgery and followup treatments, I was asked to participate in the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation’s “Run for the Cure”, as their lead photographer. It was at this massive, annual event that I finally understood the widespread devastation of this disease and the various ways that people have learned to fight back against this threat. I have been asked to use this experience on the Cancer Crossing Team to record and photograph how these people are overcoming their battle with the inner demons of cancer and are emerging on the winning side.
Diane Cousins-Olynyk
Committee member
I truly believe that throughout ones life journey, the simple gift of caring can have a profound impact to all those we come in contact with. Since I can remember, my grandmother was one of those individuals that gave of herself unconditionally, lending her caring heart to anyone in need. Her influence instilled those same caring values that I believe helped shape the woman I am today.

Growing up in Winnipeg, provided myself a variety of opportunities. I started my journey helping those battling against cancer as a volunteer at Cancer Care Manitoba when I was a teenager. My compassion eventually turned into a career with Cancer Care Manitoba that would span over twenty years. Then along came another opportunity, an appointment as President of AccuCare Canada Inc (est. 2003), a medical group that specializes in providing compression therapy solutions and services to cancer patients. It was also during this period of time that my husband, business partner, David and I raised a family and began to explore our passions towards traveling abroad and promoting patient care.

When the opportunity presented itself to volunteer with Cancer Crossing, I was ecstatic! Working alongside an amazing group of individuals, who have also been touched by cancer in some way, has been an extremely rewarding experience!