A one of a kind program created by a nurse for Hospice Calgary is making a difference for cancer patients who don't know where to turn for help.

Living with palliative cancer can be a lonely journey, for the patient and loved ones, but it doesn't always mean death is imminent. For some it means there is no longer any hope of a cure or treatment and that the cancer will eventually be terminal.

Marj McNeil had a career as a nurse and is now the coordinator of a program she created for Hospice Calgary, called Living with Cancer.

“I started off here as a volunteer at Rosedale Hospice and then got my RNs back and started working as a nurse there and for quite a while I was doing both that and this program, but this has become my pet,” said McNeil.

The program is the only one of its kind in Canada.

Doug Chisholm has lung cancer and says McNeil has created a safe place for him and many other people.

“She's created a safe environment here and it's a group that people can come to where everybody is authentic, they're transparent, they're all in the same boat and so they can talk about the elephant in the room and process it,” he said.

Don and Colleen Trenerry lived with Don’s cancer diagnosis for some time before they learned about McNeil and the living with cancer program.

“She is such a good person to run this program. She works incredibly hard, she checks up on us when we're not there and she phones every Monday very faithfully,” said Colleen.

Don says he was a bit apprehensive about joining a support group and talking about what he was dealing with.

“What brought me over to the program is the support that Marj and the group provides to Colleen as my spouse,” said Don.

McNeil says the program’s participants make it all worthwhile.

“It's amazing to see how well people do when they come into a community where they're helping each other, how long and how well they live,” she said.

For what she's doing for people living with cancer, Marj McNeil is our Inspiring Albertan this week.

(With files from Darrel Janz)