Jessica and her husband standing next to farm equipment

Personal Journey from Patient to Legacy Advocate

The following article was written by Jessica M. Durka, a member of our Gift Planning Services Committee

I can recall the exact moment when I received the phone call from Juravinski Cancer Centre. This call was to book my first appointment to discuss my newly received cancer diagnosis. Never in my life did I ever think I would be so happy to hear from a cancer centre. It became apparent how important it is that we have somewhere to go for treatment. This local cancer centre became my reality; it became my life line, literally.

Hello, my name is Jessica. I am 38 years young. In January of 2017 I was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, a blood cancer. I have been in remission for almost two years, incredible to say the least. My journey began and I was very grateful that it started at Juravinski Cancer Centre. This is when I truly realized the importance of having the best oncologists and nurses. I saw how essential it is to have the very best equipment. Most of all, I understood how crucial it is to have the most efficient treatment available.

Fast forward seven months after receiving chemotherapy treatment. I was in remission! This is where the next part of my journey began. I wanted to give back. I wanted to show my gratitude for this amazing place that saved my life. I also wanted to make a difference. Becoming more involved with Hamilton Health Science Foundation opened my eyes to so many of the great things that are happening.

We are moving forward every day in this crazy cancer world. Treatments and equipment are advancing, the physical environment we receive treatment in is changing, and research and clinical trials are making strides. Keeping up with all these changes can be challenging for The Foundation in their efforts to raise dollars that support the positive progress. I wanted to help. Here is how I made an impact…

I started my own fundraising campaign, “Our Journey with Juravinski Cancer Centre.”  We raise funds to help support the new Stem Cell Transplant Unit. My husband and I also opened “The Pumpkin Patch” on our family farm. All proceeds from our pumpkin and fall décor sales are donated to Juravinski Hospital and Cancer Centre Foundation. We plan to open our roadside pumpkin store again this fall and continue to make a difference. We want to leave a legacy and this is how we are doing it.

There are so many ways you can contribute to Hamilton Health Science Foundation. You can even direct your donations to the hospital or project of your choice. One unique and meaningful way to give is through a planned gift in your will. My husband and I have included Juravinski Hospital and Cancer Centre Foundation in our will and we feel proud that part of our legacy will live on to contribute to the positive changes the lie ahead in health care.

Head shot of Jessica Durka







Jessica M. Durka
Associate Investment Advisor
BMO Wealth Management
BMO Nesbitt Burns