It is widely acknowledged that the people of Saskatchewan are an exceptionally generous lot. In fact, it's something we pride ourselves on. This generosity often goes further than caring for our families and neighbours; it extends to those beyond our province and even our country.
Catherine Roadhouse embodied this compassionate spirit throughout her lifetime. Born in January 1911, Catherine grew up near Evesham, Saskatchewan. Upon completing Grade 12, she lived at home and helped with housework, learned various types of intricate needlework and cared for her mother, who suffered from poor health. In 1938, she married Carl Roadhouse and they farmed successfully for many years in the Evesham area.
Catherine took an active interest in community activities and co-operative ventures. In 1975, Catherine became the second director of the quilting group, which became a successful cottage industry raising much-needed funds for the improvement of the community. Her charitable work continued for many years and at the age of 96 she began crocheting blankets for orphanages. In 2008 alone, she spent nearly $1,300 on wool. Her niece noted, "she crocheted hundreds and hundreds of blankets, trying to bring some love into the lives of hundreds of unloved children."
Catherine was also a strong supporter of the Canadian Cancer Society and canvassed locally for them for over 40 years. She firmly believed that research would lead the way to a cure. To ensure that this important work would continue beyond her lifetime, Catherine left part of her estate to the U of S to be used for cancer research.
Catherine's extraordinary bequest is now being put to use at the University of Saskatchewan by supporting a research project on the primary causes of breast cancer.
Dr. Rajni Chibbar and Dr. Andrew Freywald are focusing on an aggressive type of cancer that is often found in younger women. "It's often very difficult to treat," said Dr. Freywald. "The aggressiveness is much higher in younger women than older women, and we are trying to find out why. On a molecular level, this is a very different cancer—there isn't an obvious molecule or target, and it doesn't respond well to general cancer therapies." The ultimate goal of the project is to find effective targets for treatment.
Catherine's estate gift will ensure that important cancer research can continue to move forward. Her community is indelibly changed thanks to her fundraising efforts and numerous children will receive comfort and warmth from the blankets that she lovingly crafted. In the words of her niece, "She may be gone, but the fruits of her labours will live on in the hearts and minds of us all for a long, long time."
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