Fundraiser will help mother, daughter keep dream bakery open amid health struggles

Event April 8 at The London Bakery in Ramona
Posted at 9:18 AM, Apr 05, 2017
and last updated 2017-04-05 14:40:42-04

RAMONA, Calif. (KGTV) - A fundraiser to be held Saturday at the London Bakery in Ramona will help the owner's family keep their dream alive despite a pair of devastating health scares.

Joanne Bennett opened the bakery on Sept 3, 2016. That same day, her daughter Paige Duffy started feeling sick.

"She told me, 'I can't feel my hands, my fingers. I can't switch off the lamp,'" Bennett told 10News.

Duffy was diagnosed with Guillain-Barre syndrome, a rare nerve disorder that can cause paralysis.

Since then, Duffy has been in nursing homes and the hospital. She's still in a wheelchair, awaiting surgery on one of her feet.

As her daughter fought to survive, Bennett got a health scare of her own.

"Two months after [Duffy] got sick, I was diagnosed with Stage 3-B cervical cancer," said Bennett.

Bennett went through months of chemotherapy and radiation treatments. At times, dealing with her illness and her daughter's was too much to bear.

"Some days I couldn't get out of bed," she said. "And you do feel sorry for yourself. You wonder, 'Why me? What did I ever do wrong?' But then you have to pick yourself up and be positive."

Bennett kept her positive outlook by focusing on the bakery, which she refused to close.

"Not a single day. I didn't want people to get the wrong idea," she said.

Luckily, she had hired Ana Bracamonte as a manager. Bracamonte worked every day to keep the doors open.

"She's such a wonderful person," Bracamonte said of Bennett. "She looks out for other people in general. That's her first thought, even when she was sick. So she needed someone to look out for her."

Bracamonte organized the fundraiser to help pay for Bennett's medical bills and her daughter's. She's trying to raise $10,000.

"This is all about them," Bracamonte said. "I want them to have everything and to get everything back that they should."

People are encouraged to come to the shop and buy tea or scones. They'll also be able to make a donation. Bracamonte hopes the bakery is packed with people from open to close.

Anyone who can't make it is asked to donate on their crowdfunding page.

Bennett finished treatment this week, and she said Duffy might be able to come home as soon as this weekend. It's a light at the end of the tunnel, and the bakery only makes it brighter.

"Now is the recovery period," she said. "And when [Duffy] comes home, we can both heal together."