Former Amherst mom worried about benefits while caring for sick daughter

Jocelyn Turner
Published on November 29, 2012
Kerri LeBlanc-Smith visits the indiegogo website on Wednesday to get an update on her friend, Shelley Dowe’s two-year-old daughter Marlie. Marlie was diagnosed with leukemia in March. 
Jocelyn Turner - Amherst Daily News

AMHERST – Caring for a sick child could be one of the hardest tasks a mother could face. Former Amherst resident Shelley Dowe is currently struggling with caring for her two-year-old daughter, Marlie, as she goes through treatments for leukemia.

“It’s unbelievable, you never expect that (leukemia) to be said,” said Dowe from her home in Burlington, Ontario about her daughter being diagnosed with cancer. “Especially when they’re born, they have all these tests done and they’re healthy and they’re wonderful and then, all of a sudden, everything completely changes.”

Dowe said her daughter has some good days where she’s able to get out and play and for a moment, she can forget her daughter is very sick. But she said she still notices the differences between her daughter and other healthy children.

“She still has that little bald head to remind you, and it’s always in the back of your mind,” she said.

Dowe and her husband have been struggling with their daughter’s treatments since March. Since Dowe has taken time away from work, she has been at odds with the company over her long-term disability coverage.

“For my own peace of mind, after we had the septic incident especially, I can’t (go back to work),” she said. “She went septic and almost died in less than a hour.”

Dowe was supposed to return to work earlier this week or she would be terminated from her position. Fortunately, Dowe received some good news.

“I’ve been approved for long-term disability for now. I’ll have to be reviewed again, but I’m covered until the middle of January,” she said. “But I haven’t heard anything back (about my job). Oh my God, it’s a relief. I can pay my rent on Saturday.”

But with the struggle to stay afloat, and with Dowe unable to work, and the uncertainty of how much longer she’ll be able to cover her daughter’s medical expenses, on top of her every day expenses, her family and friends in Amherst have started an online fundraiser.

“This is the one started by Karen and Wes (her brother and sister-in-law),” said Kerri LeBlanc-Smith, a close friend of the Dowe family. “We try to like it and share it. Anyone who is her friend on Facebook tries to like and share it and get it out there to everyone.”

So far, the website fundraiser has brought in $6,830 of their $150,000 goal. LeBlanc-Smith said she is hoping to see more people go to the website and show their support for Dowe and her young daughter.

“They can make anonymous donations,” she said. “You make a $2 donation or a $5,000 donation; you can make any kind of donation. You can also make a donation at the RBC.”

Dowe said she is very grateful for the support from her friends and family back home. Marlie still has two year’s worth of treatments to go through and is unable to travel because she is highly susceptible to illness.

“It’s amazing to see the kindness of people from all over, especially the people from home,” she said. “I can’t get home for the next two years, but to have that (family) support or to have a benefit… It’s amazing.”

To see updates on Marlie’s condition and to make a donation, visit The campaign will be up and running for 21 more days. Donations can be made at the RBC to the account under the name Margaret Dowe Dandrade.