The news hit Letna Allen-Rowe like a thunderbolt. During her annual physical examination a week before Christmas two years ago, the mammogram revealed a cancerous mass in one of her breasts.
“That was the darkest day of my life because it came out of the blue,” said Allen-Rowe.
After six surgeries and bouts of oral chemotherapy, the community worker and raconteur is giving back to the hospital that has been taking care of her since she was diagnosed.
Allen-Rowe has partnered with the Rouge Valley Health System to present “The Healing Hope Fundraising Brunch” on Sunday at Peter & Paul Banquet Hall, 231 Milner Ave. The event features guest speakers, entertainers and a fashion show. The price of admission is $50.
“I think this is going to help me with my healing process,” said Allen-Rowe.
After graduating in 1977 from Clarendon College, Allen-Rowe taught from kindergarten to the tertiary levels before migrating to Canada in 1993. She spent her last nine years in Jamaica with the Stony Hill Heart Academy, a vocational and technical institution.
Allen-Rowe has been actively involved with her alumni association and with the Alliance of Jamaican Alumni Associations, of which she was a vice-president. She has also done a lot of community work with Toronto Police 13 Division and with the York-Eglinton Business Improvement Association.
When she’s not working in the community, she’s on stage making people laugh. Trained at the Jamaica School of Drama and the National Institute of Broadcasting in Canada, Allen-Rowe appeared in several Little Theatre Movement pantomimes in Jamaica. Her credits include Against His Will, You Me An Mi Taxi, Mr. Garvey, Black in Time, Full House and Oliver and Cinderella.
She has toured internationally with Oliver Samuels, considered Jamaica’s King of Comedy, and appeared locally in several Marcia Brown Production plays, including Rosetta, where she played the role of a fiery Miss Mini.
Following the death of Louise Bennett-Coverley in the Greater Toronto Area in July 2006, Allen-Rowe has stepped into the role, inspiring