Honoring Marlene and Micheal Neely
This is a story about my mother and father and to give you an idea of who they were and what they stood for. They are the reason The Cam Neely Foundation for Cancer Care was created. Mom and dad (Marlene and Michael Neely) were tough, but fair parents, that provided my siblings, Christine, Scott and Shaun, and I with every opportunity a child could want. They gave us what we needed and most importantly, they gave us all their love and support.
Their commitment to family and sacrifice for family is something that is appreciated by me and my siblings and they will be admiringly and fondly remembered for the rest of our lives. They were true inspirations on what family really means and on the importance of helping others in need.
When our mom and dad were diagnosed with cancer within six months of each other in 1986, this news had a devastating impact on our family. The unknown was frightening to all of us. We spent the next many months navigating the emotional twists and turns and ups and downs that come with a loved one being diagnosed with cancer. Tragically, our mom and dad lost their battles with cancer. Our mom died of colon cancer in late 1987 and our dad died of a brain tumor in late 1993.
As a professional athlete, you receive a number of requests to help many different charities and most, if not all athletes, are happy to help in various ways. I was no different.
Once cancer came into our family’s life with our parents, it was then that I started to shift most of my charitable efforts to cancer-related causes and that eventually led to The Cam Neely Foundation for Cancer Care being established in 1995. With the loving support of my siblings, I set off on this tremendous journey to help other patients and families cope with cancer by providing comfort, support and hope to them.
Our experience left us with an urgency to turn this tragedy into something positive by helping others who are going through what we went through and do something significant to honor our parents’ memory. That urgency continues to this day and everything the Foundation has accomplished has been with the deepest understanding of what families go through during a cancer journey. Our belief is that families need help today and that belief was the inspiration for The Neely House – our first project which provides a home-away-from-home for cancer patients and their families. Thanks to the generosity of so many giving people, we are forever grateful that our family could establish a lasting memory of our mom and dad and, most importantly, help many families coping with a cancer diagnosis.
The M’s etched in the glass above the entrance to The Neely House are our mother and father’s initials for their names Marlene and Michael. Our mom and dad gave us so much and instilled in us good morals and values and this is our tribute to them, to carry on their memory and to help those who need our help.
With so much gratitude,