Since about 1996, The Spiral of Life Cancer Support Group has raised funds and helped people in Smith area with health issues.
Karen McConaghy is the group’s president.
“That’s our name,” she says, “but we are helping people who don’t have cancer,” as well as those that do.
Most years since the early 2000s, says McConaghy, Spiral of Life holds a dinner and silent raffle auction in November. At first, people would buy tickets for a loonie and try to get the final number. Now, people buy various tickets.
McConaghy says, “We decided to take a break this year, because we can’t ask people to donate.” In the past, local businesses donated most of the items for the auction, but with COVID-19 business isn’t great.
However, people can still donate, volunteer or seek help from the society. McConaghy is on Facebook and people can mail cheques to the group at Box 385, Smith, AB, T0G 2B0.
The group started when a member of the community was in Edmonton getting cancer treatment, says McConaghy. She was talking to another woman from Fort McMurray, who said that the community had a support group. The Smith woman thought that would be a good idea.
“It’s quite a trip just to get to the doctor,” says McConaghy. “To have a companion with you that’s a big deal.” The nearest hospital is 45 minutes away.
In the 2016 Census, Smith had 148 residents, down from 218 in 2011. There were people living in 55 of the 76 private dwellings. The hamlet covered 2.45 square kilometres. Of these 40 people were between the age of 0 to 14. 90 were between 15 and 64, and 15 were 65 years old and older. The oldest residents were between the ages of 75 and 79 years old. The average age of the population was 35.4 years old, which is younger than the national average of 41.
Spiral of Life works closely with Gentle Ben Care Society to support people with medical needs. Spiral of Life has medical equipment such as a hospital bed, wheelchairs, walkers, and other items. If they don’t have something a patient in the community needs, they will purchase it.
The group can also help people pay bills and other expenses if they can’t work because of an illness. This can be anything from cancer to a broken hip.