Homelessness On The Rise In New York City

Cancer Patient Who Had No Choice But To Panhandle Pens Thoughtful Letter To Everyone Who Helped Him

Homelessness On The Rise In New York City
Sean Levinson

A broke cancer patient reduced to panhandling unexpectedly discovered that he lives in quite possibly the kindest city in the world.

52-year-old Scott Murray has been battling non-Hodgkins lymphoma for the past 10 years and cannot work due to his condition, the Ottawa Citizen reports.

The entirety of his federal disability pension goes towards his $1,000-a-month rent for his apartment near the Ottawa Hospital General Campus, leaving him a $500 government check for all of his expenses, which includes a $300 monthly copayment for his medication.

“It’s left me a little short on my food money,” Murray told the Citizen.

Murray woke up last Thursday to an empty refrigerator. He would have gone to his local food bank, but it is only open on Wednesdays. His cat, Smokey, was hungry too.

“I woke up. I’ve got a little cat here with me and he was just a-whining because I hadn’t fed him for a while. And I said to myself, pride goes before the fall. You know I decided to try something. First time in my life.”

Murray grabbed his walker and went to the nearby mall where he stood outside holding a sign that read:

“Cancer patient, just need some food and milk, please and thank you.”

The former Food Inspection worker was stunned in disbelief at the response he received.

Strangers supplied Murray with enough money to feed himself along with his cat and still have some left over.

“I can tell you every person that gave me a nickel or a $20 bill,” he told the Citizen two days ago. “I can tell what they looked like and what they said. It wasn’t just that they mindlessly dropped money in a cup then walked away.”

The incredible outpour of generosity inspired Murray to write “an open letter to the people of Ottawa,” thanking his city for its unprecedented compassion.

The Montreal native worked with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency as an import-export controller for 10 years until he was diagnosed in 2004. Medication held off the cancer from spreading temporarily, but it came back last May.

Thankfully, Murray is once again in remission.

“This time, it’s been really tough,” he says.

But the financial damage dealt by this second bout with cancer revealed to Murray how fortunate he is to be surrounded by so many loving people.

“I didn’t want to and I had to keep my head down (but) when somebody put something in my cup I made eye contact and thanked them.”

To Murray, the people of Ottawa “have hearts as big as our snowbanks.”


Here is the full text of Murray’s letter (from the Ottawa Citizen):

“This is an open letter to the people of Ottawa. Recently I have fallen on hard times and ran out of food, so when I checked with my local food bank to find they are only open on Weds. from 1-3. Well this was Thursday, so for the first time in my life I swallowed my pride and made up a sign that stated “Cancer patient just need some food & milk, please and thank you.

“Then I sat on my walker in the front of the Elmvale Mall entrance with a Tim Hortons cup. The outpouring from people was too much to bear. One young lady gave me $20 and then another lady with a disabled daughter got out and gave me another $20. That was it. I cried for almost an hour. For complete strangers to show concern for a person they didn’t even know was too much.

I had all my medical records with me in case someone thought I might be pulling a fast one. Not one person doubted me. So if anyone says the people of Ottawa are cold or uncaring, I will be the first to correct them. Once again, thank you to anyone who gave me a dime or a twenty dollar bill. You have hearts as big as our snowbanks in the city.

“Yours humbly, Scott Murray.”


Via: Ottawa Citizen, Top Photo Credit: Getty Images

Sean Levinson

Sean Levinson

Staff Writer

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