Elderly cancer survivor breaks down as bingo hall staffers kick her out twice for not covering breathing hole
An elderly cancer survivor was left in tears after she was turned away from her local bingo hall twice because she would not cover up the hole in her neck, even though she explained that was how she breathed, her son shared. In a viral social media post that has been shared close to 350 times, Canadian BJ Gilbert explained how his 67-year-old mother, Elaine Arbeau, was repeatedly mistreated by the management at a Delta Bingo hall in Pickering, a city in southern Ontario.
"My mom has battled many types of cancers over the last 20 years," he wrote. "She is still here. Hell of a survivor. However, she like any soldier, carries many wounds. One being the hole left in her neck. So because of that battle she can't talk like us, or breathe like us. She breathes through the hole in her neck."
Gilbert went on to explain how the Covid-19 pandemic, which has been shown to be more lethal to the elderly, had meant his mother, who would only go out to play at a casino or a bingo hall, was deprived of the little social contact she usually had. He said she had been confined within her home for six months until recently when officials cleared the opening of a nearby bingo hall. However, her initial excitement quickly turned into embarrassment and sorrow.
"Like most people she too was excited to go play and see her friends again," Gilbert shared. "However when she went to Delta Bingo Pickering, she was told to leave by management if she didn't cover up the hole on her neck. Well, she explained that was impossible to do so. That's how she breathes. But nevertheless Lucy the operations manager escorts her out to the parking lot. In the parking lot Lucy realized how upset mom was and said it was ok to go back in. My mom was beside herself and floored. My mom left."
Gilbert said that, following that incident, his mom remained in constant touch with the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation, who assured her that she had every right to enter any gambling establishment regardless of the hole in her neck. Eventually, she worked up the courage to return after talking to friends, family and others, but was left heartbroken again as she was once again turned away.
"So she heads out on Sat. August 28 to have a good night out and this happens," he said, referring to a video of a Delta Bingo manager telling her she could not enter the hall without covering the hole in her neck because "this is private property and they can mandate any rules that they want."
"Even though she tries to explain what she learnt she was over talked," Gilbert claimed. "My poor mom has no voice so I'm hoping by getting this out there many people will join me to give her one. This should never happen to anyone in my mom's position."
After the incident caught the attention of social media, Cam Johnston, the CEO of Delta Bingo, told CTV News Toronto that he will be taking a "hard look" at the incident but that it would be better if those like Arbeau avoided public gatherings.
"I'll make a judgment shortly," he promised. "But we would prefer that people who are unable to wear masks do not attend. I think it's best for them. We're trying to protect everyone but my first concern and first obligation is the health and safety of all our customers and staff."