As a parent, last week I was reminded that there’s nothing more frustrating or fearful than not being able to help your child when they’re in pain and scared. I’ve never felt so helpless. I was also reminded that not all parents are as fortunate as my family to be able to have our now not-so-little daughter, Chardonae, with us for the holidays. So many are separated at this special time of year – but there’s a lot that we can do to help these sick children and their families cope with illnesses and the feelings of helplessness that accompany them, particularly over the holiday season, but also throughout the entire year.
Many people ask me why I’m so passionate about BC Children’s Hospital Foundation (BCCHF) and TELUS. Simply put, it’s because we’ve lived through the experience of having a sick child in hospital with concerned family members unable to make it out to Vancouver to support us.
A number of years ago when our Lil’ C was admitted to BC Children’s Hospital with debilitating joint pain, she could barely move and we had no idea what was happening. Our minds were filled with “what if’s” and after a week in the hospital we were fortunate to see her returning to her jovial, positive and fun-loving self. Her body still ached but the medications were helping deal with the infection that had overtaken her immune system. This was the first sign that she had an underlying health condition that we needed to deal with – yet there were still no concrete answers.
Once she was released, we went back to normal life: school, fun, food and family time…the usual drill. But we also knew we faced many return visits to see the amazing team at BC Children’s to deal with whatever was affecting C’s immune system. Test after test, expert after expert; they made my wife, Christie, and I feel comfortable and connected, but what truly impressed me was how they made C feel so great! Imagine – after so much pain and testing, to this day she still loves going to the hospital so she can visit with other patients, her doctors and their support teams.
We eventually learned that C had Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis (or JIA) and we’re working closely with a fantastic healthcare team to treat her condition.
Our story and experience isn’t unique. And while Christie and I were based in Vancouver throughout C’s treatment, we saw many families that didn’t have the luxury we did of living nearby. But BCCHF, with the help of supporters like TELUS, Grouse Mountain Resort and the Grind for Kids Initiative, has been able to use funding so that families undergoing treatment across British Columbia can stay in their own communities and still receive the best possible care.
TELUS’ recent $5M gift to an initiative of BC Children’s – Child Health BC – included funding to telehealth, a program that helps families get expert care closer to home. No matter where in the province they live, using enhanced video conferencing technology, medical practitioners are able to provide on-demand virtual face-to-face consultation and care, allowing patients and their families to have better access to the medical expertise at BC Children’s Hospital, eliminating the need for them to travel hundreds of kilometres in often inclement weather while they are sick.
When I watched the BC Children’s holiday video I was reminded of all the things I am grateful for this holiday season: my family and the experiences we lived through with Chardonae, the world class care and support we received from BC Children’s Hospital and companies like TELUS who help make technological advances possible to put patients and their families first. I hope you’ll take a moment to watch this video too and help support BC Children’s Hospital Foundation in delivering exceptional care and treatment to make a difference for other families like ours.