A mother of 5 children, Samuel's mom shares her family's story, following her son's cancer diagnosis.
What would you say to families who have not experienced the House, how would you describe the House to them?
The words that came to mind are safe haven. The hospital is great in terms of taking care of you, but it does not give you the fullest care; feeding, nurturing and so on. I don’t know how you all manage 81 rooms. You never call it the apartment, you always say the House. I think it’s the atmosphere, the staff and the volunteers. I don’t know maybe it was the training the ability to create a homelike atmosphere. Yes, looking at the facilities you wouldn’t guess it could have that.
How would you say the House helps you as a mom cope?
It has allowed me to be a mom. For example, the laundry where I can pop Samuel into his wheelchair and do laundry, cooking and cleaning, the things to make you feel normal and the sense of stability.
How about interacting with the families, did it surprise the dynamic sense of community here?
In our case, when at the time when he did a lot of chemo, most of the time we have to stay in our room. But, now in the past 2 weeks, we have been taking advantage of the community, activities at the House. I’d say when you’re a damage person and being among damage people, going through the same thing, we know how to be together. Not stepping toes, asking the right questions and so on. So being with the same people whom are going through the same thing is what I notice, they know how to relate with you. We have the closeness without the invasiveness.
What kind of impact of this diagnosis impacted your other children?
They all have been impacted in different ways. My oldest have had to mature faster and have to grow up and understand what it really means how life can change. And the others I think it’s just learning curve for them. They probably don’t understand it yet like we do, for them its new people to meet. Each child experiences differently, and probably the biggest impact is learning to live apart as a family.
Who’s taking care of them while your husband goes to work?
We’ve hired 2 teachers, and some friends, and there are people who bring food. It is hard living knowing you need to think that this situation is normal for them, yet you know realistically it’s not normal. But you just need to be positive for them (children)
How would say have you changed as the result of this?
The first thing that posp into my mind, it may not sound nice, but I cry more. But when I think about it and break it down, it’s more of being comfortable with your own vulnerability. Giving up the things that make you who you are, learning to live the roles you have.
What would you have done without the House?
It may sound dramatic but we would have given up sustaining our home in Thunder Bay. Because we wouldn’t be able to afford two different lifestyles. We would have to move into an apartment. Basically we just have to compromise big things. And you can’t react quickly because things happened so fast.
What would you like to say to donors, most of whom you will probably never meet?
Definitely a big thank you, because I do believe that the House gives the best outcome to both the child and the families. In our case we wouldn’t be together as much with them.
How would you describe Samuel before this happened?
He is very inquisitive, deep thinking little guy. He has asked a lot philosophical questions, still does. He is very strong! And bears everything very well.
Have you ever questioned why me? Why us?
Actually I don’t since I have travelled a bit around the world. And when you have seen what’s going on, even what we’re going through, it does not compare to what other people have to go through. There are a lot of hard things in our world. When I think of my son getting the treatment here in Canada he is fortunate, because other people from third world countries face more hardship. I think the House will help us as a family as family unit, to go through hardship as a family.