Sandra Watson's cleaning company provides services to cancer patients that go beyond what can be done with a mop and bucket.

Her company Merry Maids of Halifax is part of an organization called Cleaning for a Reason, which provides free cleaning services to cancer patients.

"We pledge to clean cancer patients' homes for free, for four months at a time, while the cancer patient goes through their treatments," Watson said.

Sharing time with sick clients has been very moving and brought about deep bonds with families, she says.

Emotional support

The volunteer work recently garnered the company an ethics award from the Better Business Bureau of the Atlantic Provinces.

"A lot of cancer patients will nominate us for different things. We're very excited that we won the Better Business Torch Award for Ethics in Business," Watson said.

Going to the first patient's home was a bit daunting, she said.

"When I did arrive that day, Kara [client] wasn't very well. She was laying on the couch and she had a lot of lines hooked up to her. She had no hair, she was going through treatments. She just had a brand-new baby," Watson said.

"We became very close with Kara and her family."

Baby's first birthday

Unfortunately, the woman died about 18 months later.

"We're really only supposed to service the cancer patient for four months. But because we became so close with Kara and her family, I could not stop her cleaning. So we continued to clean for Kara upwards of 18 months, until she passed away actually."

The experience was tough. Watson recalls the baby's first birthday as his mother had became increasingly ill.

"Because this was Kara's only child, she really didn't know what to do when we showed up that day with his first birthday cake and balloons and presents. She was very ill but she was taking video diaries for him,and she videotaped the whole thing. We coached her and encouraged her," she said.

"It was a very emotional moment for all of us because it was his first birthday, his first birthday cake and we all knew what the outcome was going to be. She did pass away shortly after that."

With files from Jeorge Sadi