• Reporter Elaina John

Local Cancer Survivor Featured In Compassion House Virtual Fashion Show


Diane Fellowes. Photo Credit: Curtis Trent Photography


Compassion House Foundation in Edmonton will be hosting their annual “Fashion With Compassion” fundraiser in a virtual setting on October 8 at 7 p.m. Tickets can be purchased for $50 at CompassionHouse.org/fwc.

Operated by Compassion House Foundation, Sorrentino’s Compassion House, located at 10909 76 Ave NW, is a home for women who are having cancer treatment in Edmonton. For many women, the physical and financial cost it takes to travel to Edmonton for cancer treatments can be astronomical. Compassion House aims to provide a comfortable home for women receiving treatment at a low cost.

County of Vermilion River local Diane Fellowes was asked to be a model for the event and share her story. Fellowes was diagnosed with stage 2 cervical cancer in early spring of 2019. Though tests, exams, and procedures, Fellowes was booked for cancer treatment at Edmonton’s Cross Cancer Institute. Due to the fact that Fellowes lived in Vermilion at that time, seeking accommodations in Edmonton was an important factor. Her treatments were from August 12-September 27, 2019.

“Compassion House was a godsend, really,” expressed Fellowes.

During her time at Compassion House, Fellowes endured five rounds of chemotherapy, 36 rounds of radiation treatments, and brachytherapy treatments, all of which are intensive treatments that causes sickness and weakness.

“You physically and emotionally break down,” Fellowes said.

Fellowes received immense support within Compassion House, as guests of the House formed support for one another and the House itself worked hard to facilitate the most comfortable living experience possible. Along with Compassion House’s facilities and supplies, the guests at Compassion House form bonds quickly. Sunday brunches were put on by guests to ensure everyone was eating and staying strong.

Compassion House supplies guests with books, seating areas, computers, business facilities, an exercise room, physiotherapists, and a yoga instructor to facilitate meditation. Compassion House is also located quite close to the Cross Cancer Institute, and Fellowes reports that she was able to walk to and from her treatments when feeling good. Although, the Cross Cancer Institute provides a shuttle service for patients.

“I made great, fast friends,” reflects Fellowes, “Everybody has their story and process through their journey, everybody wanted to share, and it helps to have people who understand how you’re feeling.”

Fellowes keeps in communication with the friends she made at Compassion House, and calls them her sisters. A week before Fellowes left the House, guests threw a farewell party, which made Fellowes feel incredibly humbled and special.

“Forever will I be grateful that I stayed at Compassion House,” said Fellowes.

Since leaving, Fellowes and her partner have made various contributions towards Compassion House. Donations to Compassion House are crucial. The cost to operate Compassion House is $135 each night, however, the House only charges $35 a night. Fashion with Compassion is a very important event for Compassion House and greatly contributes to the ability to operate the House.

“I was surprised and honoured to be asked to be one of the five models for this year’s fashion show fundraiser,” Fellowes said, “I’d never been photographed in that capacity before, and the photographer was supportive, encouraging, and very funny.”

After being photographed, the models shared their stories in a different segment for the event.

To all women, Fellowes advises; “Make time to schedule in screening tests, and don’t assume that an inconclusive test means you’re okay. Rebook and make another appointment.”

Currently residing in Mannville, Fellowes has now been cancer free for a year.

To donate to Compassion House, purchase a ticket to the virtual fashion show, or cover the cost of a stay at Compassion House, visit CompassionHouse.org.


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