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London Drugs St. Vital Centre 1225 St. Mary’s Road Winnipeg, MB

Red River Co-op Food Stores and Pharmacy (Winnipeg Locations)

  • Grant Park Co-op Food Store, 1120 Grant Ave, Winnipeg, MB
  • Southdale Co-op Food Store, 77 Vermillion Rd., Winnipeg, MB
  • St. Vital Co-op Food Store, 850 Dakota St., Winnipeg, MB
  • St. Norbert Co-op Food Store, 3477 Pembina Hwy
  • Main Street Co-op Pharmacy, 1441 Main St., Winnipeg, MB

Shoppers Drug Mart Stores (Winnipeg Locations)

1050 Leila Ave Unit 102 (Garden City)

106-790 Sherbrook St. (MB Clinic)

2656 Pembina Hwy (Pembina & Dalhousie)

1128 Henderson Hwy Unit 50 (Kildonan Village)

1155 Main St Unit C (Redwood & Main)

795 Keewatin St (Burrows & Keewatin)

3665 Portage Ave W (Unicity)

917 Portage Ave (Portage & Banning)

43 Osborne St (Roslyn & Osborne)

2533 Portage Ave (St. James Shop Ctr)

2211 Pembina Hwy (Pembina Village)

1017 McPhillips St (Mountain & McPhillips)

785 Dakota St Unit 1 (St. Vital Square)

777 Sherbrook St (Sherbrook & Notre Dame)

32-1555 Regent Ave W (Kildonan Place)

710 St. Anne’s Rd (Southglen Shop Ctr)

360 Main St Unit 2 (Winnipeg Square)

6670 Roblin Blvd Unit 14 (Roblin & Dale)

2025 Corydon Ave (Tuxedo Park Shop Ctr)

1122 Pembina Hwy (Pembina & Point)

43 Marion St (Dominion Centre)

100-1155 Concordia Ave (Molson & Concordia)

1120 Grant Ave Unit 6000 (Grant Park)

50 Sage Creek Blvd (Sage Creek)

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2512 Main St (Main & Red River)

125-393 Portage Ave (Portage Place)

1750 Plessis Rd Unit 201 (Kildonan Green)

1A-3900 Grant Ave (Charleswood Centre)

2160 McGillivray Blvd (Kenaston & McGillivray)

100-235 Vermillion Rd (Southdale Square)

520- 350 North Town Rd (Bridgwater)

Shoppers Drug Mart Stores (Rural Locations) Please check individual store locations for hours of operation.

230 Main St.-Selkirk, MB

124 Saskatchewan Ave. – Portage la Prairie

Written by Lottery Team on May 17, 2021

Rare Cancer no Match for Son’s Love

“I call my son and tell him his stem cells need to hear his voice to stay strong”

Audrey Benningen has always been an active person. When she met her partner Chris in the summer of 2017, she’d found the perfect match in someone who also embraced an active lifestyle.

During their first year together, the couple spent time at their cottages at Victoria Beach and Chris’s family’s cottage in Quebec. They travelled to Nelson, BC, to ski and hike with her son Evan and his partner Katie who live there. They even flew over 5,000 miles for a month-long ski trip in Japan.

After a round of tennis in the spring of 2018, Benningen noticed a rash developing on her ankles, which spread to her arms and chest. The rash was the first sign Benningen’s life was about to veer off course.

“Whatever you do,” says Benningen, “don’t call this a journey. I hate it when people call it that. For me, a journey is travelling somewhere to see amazing things. This was a bump in the road. This was going temporarily off course.”

Benningen’s rash was controlled by Prednisone, a medicine used to decrease inflammation, for two months. In June 2018, Benningen was tapered off Prednisone and began speaking illogically. Her partner knew there was something wrong; the bright, athletic woman he’d met was now incoherent. Her hemoglobin dropped to 26—a sign that Benningen was lacking oxygen in her blood—and she was rushed by an ambulance to HSC Winnipeg where the tests began.

Under the care of Dr. Lin Yang, a lymph node biopsy revealed the cause: lymphoma. Specifically, it was angioimmunoblastic T-cell lymphoma, a rare, aggressive cancer that accounts for only four percent of lymphomas. Benningen went directly for a PET scan, which checks for diseases, and an MRI, which provides detailed images of bones, tissues, and organs. The cancer was declared stage 4; treatment began immediately.

After chemotherapy, Benningen required a risky stem cell transplant to survive. In March of 2019, about a year after first noticing the rash, she underwent a stem cell transplant using her own cells under the care of Dr. Craig Speziali.

“At first, things seemed positive. I was discharged and I was doing okay,” says Benningen. “Then, about two months later, they saw the lymphoma again. It was absolutely devastating to be told the transplant didn’t work.”

The oncology team concluded that her best chance for success would be more chemotherapy over the summer of 2019, with another stem cell transplant—this time with donor cells. While the team searched globally for the perfect match, it was her son Evan (who travelled back and forth to Winnipeg throughout her illness) that proved to be her best option. He was a 50 percent match, but at age 29, healthy and robust, her own son gave her the best chance to live.

There was a flurry of activity to get ready for the operation. To prepare Evan for the procedure, the team at HSC coordinated with the hospital in Nelson. When Evan flew to Winnipeg, he endured five days of injections in the abdomen to stimulate stem cell growth. Benningen herself received a final intense round of chemotherapy prior to the transplant. And then it was time.

Still under the care of Dr. Speziali, Benningen’s doing extremely well and is only weeks away from the post-transplant mark after which Benningen’s chance of lymphoma not returning is greater. Her son’s T cells are still working hard to defeat the cancer. She says: “I call my son and tell him his T cells need to hear his voice to stay strong and keep doing what they do. I am extremely grateful for him and all of the health care practitioners who cared for me; I am especially grateful for the team at CancerCare Manitoba and on HSC’s GD6 ward where I spent two months.”

“This bump in the road may have limited me, temporarily,” says Benningen, “but one day I will downhill ski again. When you look at me, you may say I’ve changed: my long dark hair is short, and I have some scarring from the treatments. But when I’m in the moment, when I’m cross-country skiing or walking with my partner, I’m still me, it hasn’t changed me. That’s the miracle.”

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