Cash for Queens cancer patients through The Rose Fund

Published on April 20, 2017

Rosanne Himmelman died from colon cancer at the age of 37. During the last six months of her illness, she often spoke of a desire for a foundation that would help those suffering with cancer. Her family and friends have set that foundation up – and it has cash on hand for any cancer patient in Queens County who may need it.

LIVERPOOL - Maxine Himmelman still chokes up when she talks about her late daughter, Rosanne Himmelman, who died of cancer in 2005 at the age of 37. 

Maxine Himmelman, left, and former palliative care nurse Agnes Brooks have set up the Rose Fund, which provides cash directly to cancer patients in Queens for whatever they may need it for.

During the last six months of Rosanne’s life, she wanted to help other cancer patients who she kept seeing in the hospital rooms and treatment areas.

“She didn’t really need the help, she had a good insurance behind her, but she sat alongside of people who really couldn’t afford the smaller things they really needed, so she would give hundred dollar bills from her purse to help the patients,” says Maxine.

“So she said when I get better I’m going to start a foundation and these people will have what they need.”

Rosanne didn’t get better, but her mother, and her palliative care nurse Agnes Brooks, along with several other people, took up the challenge. They created The Rose Fund, which fundraises for cancer patients in Queens and Lunenburg Counties for whatever they may need.

Over the past several years, the fund has given out more than $100,000 to cancer patients – once even providing winter tires for a cancer patient so he could travel safely to Halifax for treatment.

“The unfair thing about it is nine out of ten people haven’t heard about us,” says Maxine.

“When we started we gave out money for travel, for parking and meals and things like that,” says Maxine. “Now what we’ve started to do is now we have put oil in tanks, we’ve bought groceries, we’ve paid bills.”

Rosanne was from Bridgewater, but Maxine says it was only fair to extend the help to Queens, since most Queens cancer patients have to travel to Bridgewater, and farther.

“How can you have someone sitting here from Queens County and someone sitting next to them from Lunenburg County – you can have help and you can’t? We couldn’t do that.”

Her palliative care nurse Agnes Brooks says she got on board because she saw so many people who needed help, and it wasn’t there for them.

“I saw people going without proper food, they had to buy drugs or they had to pay for gas to travel or pay someone else to take them,” she says. “I’ve seen them struggle even with Depends and other things, things that people don’t think about. And they cost – all of them – and how much these people suffer.”

Brooks says Rosanne struck her because she was one of the youngest patients she had to care for – and she wanted badly to live.

“She wanted that more than anything else,” she says.

Maxine says the fund is available through the South Shore Regional Hospital’s cancer patient navigator program.

“We want to give 100 per cent back to the community,” she says. “So if someone goes in there and they are needing help, they just cover it. We haven’t turned anyone down yet. We don’t turn down people.”

The Rose Fund is having its 9th annual dinner and auction on Saturday, May 6, at the Oakhill Fire Hall. Tickets are $40 per person.

“We haven’t had one person come out yet from Liverpool,” says Maxine. “This is how you work in a community. It’s as much for Queens County as it is for another.”

Anyone who wants to know more about the Rose Fund can contact Maxine Himmelman at 902 543 9746 or Agnes Brooks at 902-350-6035.