Chris & Tina Lees’ Story
If you look up devoted in the dictionary, you may see a picture of Chris and Tina Lees beside the definition. The Lees are a cattle ranching couple from Arcola, SK and the friends they’ve made over decades in the ranching community supported them both on the farm and as they experienced cancer together.
On November 1st, 2019, Tina was diagnosed with breast cancer, and had a mastectomy and reconstruction surgery two months later.
“I got a free tummy tuck and it only cost me one [breast]”, Tina says jokingly, “You’ve got to look at it upbeat, right?”
“I find you got to talk about it. Information is knowledge. There’s no point in pretending it’s not happening. If a complete stranger wants to ask how I got through this and that, I’ll tell them.”
While Tina was recovering from her surgery and healing from her treatments, tragedy struck again. Chris was diagnosed with cancer. First prostate, then colorectal. Chris had chemotherapy treatments and radiation therapy followed by surgery in October of 2020.
Chris was home healing from surgery, preparing for his next round of chemotherapy, when Tina found something in her underarm – cancer in her lymph nodes. By December 2020 both Tina and Chris were receiving chemotherapy treatments at the Allan Blair Cancer Centre.
“We couldn’t go to Mexico cause of COVID,” Tina says, “so… let’s go to Chemo together!”
Chris was coming into Regina from Arcola for treatments twice a week, and Tina once a week. Every Wednesday they’d come in together, so it was dubbed “Date Wednesday”.
“They even wanted us to sit together at the cancer clinic! And I was like ‘No, its two hours to get here and two more hours to drive home with him. No, put him around the corner.’ Tina teased, “I got peace and quiet that way.”
Tina loves to joke, but she and Chris are there for each other no matter what. That’s part of the ranching culture – you look out for one another.
Being cattle ranchers, there’s always work to be done and animals that rely on them. “We got through it. We got through calving and the winter. We got through it with the help of family and friends.”
Chris, whose father was a founder of the Canadian Western Agribition (CWA) in 1971, has followed in his father’s footsteps. 50 years later, Chris carries on his legacy in his role as the President of the CWA. He and Tina decided that the 2021 CWA Hereford Sale would be a great place to share their story and to give back to organizations that have been there for them and their community; the Cancer Foundation of Saskatchewan and STARS Air Ambulance.
The ranching community and the friends they’ve made through CWA over the past decades answered the call. The Hereford Sale charity auction raised more than $70,000 to help two charities that hold special meaning to the Lees!
Funds raised will be shared between the Cancer Foundation in support of the Allan Blair Cancer Centre and STARS so they can continue to help transport people in need of urgent medical care. Living rurally, Chris and Tina understand the importance of having access to this transportation; and after spending many hours at the Allan Blair Cancer Centre, they know the value of the care they received.
Thank you, Chris and Tina, for sharing your story and making a positive difference in our province, and to everyone who showed their support by making a donation!