Mother and Daughter Breast Cancer Survivors Grow Cloves for a Cause

It runs in the family. As the mother-daughter team operating Ballantrae Garlic Farm in Caledonia, Paula Willinsky and Sarah Freeman have a lot in common. They both have a passion for the numerous varieties of garlic they grow; they share a deep respect for nature and sustainable farming; and they are also both breast cancer survivors.

Sarah Freeman with her mother Paula Willinsky, Owner of Ballantrae Garlic Farm

Sarah Freeman with her mother Paula Willinsky, Owner of Ballantrae Garlic Farm

Paula’s patient journey began when she was diagnosed in 2001. She received care at Juravinski Hospital and Cancer Centre under the supervision of Dr. Mark Levine.

“It’s a scary thing when you’re faced with your own mortality,” says Paula. “Luckily, I received care from an extraordinary group of people for my radiation treatment, chemo and mastectomy.”

Paula had a second encounter with breast cancer two years later. Luckily, it was discovered at an earlier stage than the first time and it was treated with radiation. Today, she is in good health and grateful to be cancer-free.

“When you’re fortunate enough to come out the other side, there’s so much life to celebrate,” says Paula. “You zone in on what’s important in life, which is family.”

Sarah began her own patient journey in 2014 when she was also diagnosed with breast cancer.

“I had a hard time wrapping my head around having breast cancer at age 42. I was fortunate that Mom was there to guide me through the scariest time of my life.”
– Sarah Freeman

Coincidentally, Sarah would also have Dr. Levine as her oncologist during her treatment at Juravinski Hospital and Cancer Centre. After undergoing a partial mastectomy and radiation therapy, Sarah is doing well and is scheduled for annual follow-up appointments to monitor her condition.

“We’re very indebted to the great people who cared for us,” says Paula. “That’s why we’re giving back with Cloves for a Cause and have partnered with Hamilton Health Sciences Foundation’s Care4 program.”

Cloves for a Cause is a program created by Paula and Sarah to raise money for various community organizations. Paula and Sarah have established Hope Garden to benefit Juravinski Hospital and Cancer Centre.  Hope Garden consists of 20,000 bulbs of rare, gourmet varieties: Violet and Rose de Lautrec from France and Kostyns from Russia.

When you purchase the Hope Garden package of five gourmet bulbs, 50 per cent of the proceeds will be donated to Hamilton Health Sciences Foundation in support of Juravinski Hospital and Cancer Centre, and the remaining 50 per cent will be reinvested back into Hope Garden. This includes the replanting of five garlic cloves, so the fundraising will grow year after year.

Tamara Pope, Vice President, Marketing and Communications at Hamilton Health Sciences Foundation notes, “we are grateful to Paula and Sarah for their commitment to give back and April 19, National Garlic Day, is the perfect day to launch our partnership.”

Ballantrae Garlic Farm will be selling their Cloves for a Cause garlic online, directly from the farm, and discussions are underway with retailers to carry the product on their shelves.

“Ballantrae is a place for life,” says Sarah. “If you take care of the land, the land will take care of you. We want our land to take care of other people too, and this program is one way we can do that.”