- Scott Murray, suffering from non-Hodgkins lymphoma, who now says he’s ‘on bonus time,’ as doctors had given him until this past Christmas, is running into financial issues as he tries to balance his pharmacy bills among everything else.
Photograph by: Cole Burston , Ottawa Citizen
Don’t tell Scott Murray this is an uncaring city. To him, the people of Ottawa “have hearts as big as our snowbanks.”
When hard times found Murray standing in front of Elmvale Acres Shopping Centre last week with a sign that said “Cancer patient, just need some food & milk, please and thank you” he said he was overwhelmed by the response.
So overwhelmed he sent the Citizen “an open letter to the people of Ottawa” to thank them for their generosity.
It was the first time in his life, says Murray, who’s 52 and has been battling non-Hodgkins lymphoma for the past 10 years, that he has been reduced to panhandling.
“I can tell you every person that gave me a nickel or a $20 bill,” he said Wednesday. “I can tell what they looked like and what they said. It wasn’t just that they mindlessly dropped money in a cup then walked away.
“That’s what compelled me to write a letter. I just had to. I had to. It weighed on my mind that I got home and had some food and I had some milk.”
This is the full text of Murray’s letter:
“This is an open letter to the people of Ottawa. Recently I have fallen on hard times and ran out of food, so when I checked with my local food bank to find they are only open on Weds. from 1-3. Well this was Thursday, so for the first time in my life I swallowed my pride and made up a sign that stated “Cancer patient just need some food & milk, please and thank you.”
Then I sat on my walker in the front of the Elmvale Mall entrance with a Tim Hortons cup. The outpouring from people was too much to bear. One young lady gave me $20 and then another lady with a disabled daughter got out and gave me another $20. That was it. I cried for almost an hour. For complete strangers to show concern for a person they didn’t even know was too much. I had all my medical records with me in case someone thought I might be pulling a fast one. Not one person doubted me.
So if anyone says the people of Ottawa are cold or uncaring, I will be the first to correct them. Once again, thank you to anyone who gave me a dime or a twenty dollar bill. You have hearts as big as our snowbanks in the city.”