BY CORNELIA NAYLOR, The Chilliwack Times
For Chilliwack cleaning company owner Lisa Riobo, donating free house cleaning to women battling cancer just seemed like the right thing to do.
So after getting her franchise, the Cleaning Authority, up and running in November, she signed on to Cleaning For A Reason, an international non-profit dedicated to giving women laid low by chemotherapy treatments and cancer surgery a helping hand around the house.
“We’re cleaning already, so why wouldn’t we do it for the people who really need it right now?” Riobo said.
What she didn’t count on was how hard it would be to convince women to take the help.
She registered one month ago with Cleaning For A Reason, which provides four free cleanings over four months.
Since then, the husband of one woman undergoing cancer treatment signed up only to have the woman call back and say the free cleanings weren’t needed.
But Riobo suspects it might just be hard for women to admit they need help.
Local cancer survivor Bev Mac-Gregor, a single mother and grandmother who recently finished her final round of chemotherapy for breast cancer, knows what that’s like.
Cancer treatments wiped her out and interfered with her ability to concentrate and focus, she said.
It took her until February, for example, to muster enough energy to take down her Christmas decorations.
“I can’t even do justice to how horrible it makes you feel,” she said.
But it was still hard to accept help around the house even from her sisters.
“They did everything, and that made me feel so loved, but also it made me feel useless,” she said. “I’m very independent and I’ve always taken care of myself.”
What she has learned from her experience, though, is that it’s important for women battling cancer to accept help, not just for their own wellbeing but for other’s as well.
“What I’ve learned is people want to help and people want to do something for you,” MacGregor said. “They can’t take away the cancer, they can’t take away your chemo, they can’t take away your pain or your anxieties or your fears, but people want to do something to help.”
And help is just what Riobo, whose family has been fortunate enough not to be touched by cancer, wants to do.
Her company is the first in Chilliwack to sign on with Cleaning For A Reason, and she hopes other local businesses follow suit, since small businesses like hers can only take on about two clients at a time.
“It would be really cool if more cleaning companies in the area would sign up for it because there’s no way there’s only two women out there battling cancer right now,” Riobo said.
For more information about visit www.cleaningforareason.org.