The Tri-port communities are rallying around a North Island woman who’s facing a tough battle with cancer — the second time she’s had to do so in less than two years.
Jessika Roberts, a Port Alice married mom of three young children, successfully battled cervical cancer about a year-and-half ago, said close pal Ashley Flannigan.
“They did chemotherapy and radiation and they thought they got it,” she said.
The treatment involved travel to Vancouver and the bills were piling up.
“The family did what they could and her husband, Toby, who works at the log sort in Port Alice, took on a second job,” Flannigan said.
It was a tough scrap and Roberts came out the other side weakened, but with a clean bill of health.
Just when things were starting to get back to normal, Roberts received some bad news.
“A couple of months ago, Jessika began feeling ill and was given an MRI,” said Flannigan.
“That’s when they discovered the cancer returned and spread to different parts of her body.”
Roberts, who was born and raised on the North Island, will celebrate her 27th birthday next month, probably while in treatment.
Her friends and family know Jessika’s in for a tough second fight with the insidious disease, including receiving treatment far away from her North Island home.
But they’re committed to do what they can to let her concentrate on getting well while they try to ease financial worries for her and her family.
To that end, there will be a silent auction Nov. 5 from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Port McNeill’s Scout Hall.
Flannigan said she realizes it may seem odd the auction for the Port Alice woman is being held in McNeill.
“Port Alice has been an amazing community for her and her family, but a friend from Port McNeill received an offer from the Scout Hall to use their facilities if they wanted.”
They did and realized that was only the beginning of the kindness extended to the Roberts.
Dozens and dozens of businesses from the North Island have already contributed to the auction — everything from whale watching tours to restaurant meals to chartered fishing trips to having that catch professionally smoked.
In addition, there will also be baked goods for sale, coffee, tea, pop and other refreshments.
Beginning at 7 p.m. that evening, the first Bob Bailey hockey game will be played at Port Alice as a benefit for the Roberts family. Admission is by donation, and the event will also include 50/50 draws, a puck toss, raffle basket and concession.
“The support has been overwhelming,” said Flannigan. “We’ve received messages from people who’ve said, ‘Hey, I don’t have much money but can I drop off 10 bucks? People are just willing to do whatever they can.”
Flannigan said she realizes cancer altered everything for her friend, but in helping with the auction, things have changed for her as well.
“I grew up on the North Island and I’ve done my share fair of complaining about it,” she said.
“But through all this my eyes have been so opened on how amazing things are here.”
Items for the auction, cards of well wishes, or other items meant for Roberts and her family can be sent to: Jessika Roberts c/o Hardy Buoys Smoked Fish 9300 Trustee Rd. PO Box 401, Port Hardy B.C. V0N 2P0.