Our Stories, Our Families.
It’s not always easy working in the Vancouver Easter Seals House; you see a lot of sick kids, kids undergoing multiple surgeries, and parents who would do anything to make their child better… but days like today make it worth it. Today we got to celebrate Dayton who finished his last chemotherapy treatment after a three year battle with Leukemia. When he was first diagnosed at the age of two, he and his mom Racheal spent a long nine months living at the Easter Seals House. Away from the usual support system she would rely on during a difficult time, Racheal had to deal with a heart-breaking diagnosis, an infant daughter, and a brand new city.
Fast forward three years and the Easter Seals House is a second home to Racheal and Dayton. Dayton is friends with all the staff, knows where the toys are kept, and basically runs the show. Dayton and Racheal will come back next month for Dayton to have surgery to get the various lines in him removed and then they will continue to come to Vancouver every three months for checkups, but for now we are celebrating that Dayton will finally get to go to school, play with his friends, and just be a kid when he gets home to Kamloops. Congratulations Dayton and Racheal, we couldn’t be happier for you both!
Hannah and her mom Candace
Imagine that you are a mother of 4 beautiful girls, all under the age of 5 and your eldest Hannah complains of a bloated abdomen. You don’t really think anything of it until 2 days later you notice a ‘rather large mass’ just under her rib cage. What should have been a simple trip to the Emergency in Prince George Hospital turns into mom and daughter being whisked away by Air Ambulance to Vancouver. After a number of tests your worst fear comes to reality with a diagnosis of Stage 4 Wilm’s Tumor with metastases to the lungs and suspicious on the liver - Cancer. This is just the beginning of a long journey for Hannah and her mom Candace.
As first timers to Vancouver with no family around locally for support, no idea of how to use transit, or even where to buy groceries; Candace quickly hears about a place called Easter Seals House. Little did Candace and Hannah know how well they would get to know this place. Outside of the house, you are welcomed by a group of colourful animal sculptures; there are bears, orcas and eagles. Enter the House and you are warmly welcomed at the front desk by the friendly staff. On your walk to your room, you pass by a playroom, living room and kitchen. You peek in and notice families hanging out in the living room and kitchen who provide you with a welcoming smile. You enter your room which includes a kitchenette, private bathroom and two beds. As Hannah’s life centres around chemo therapy, radiation and surgery, she and her mom start to receive support from other families staying at the Easter Seals House. They become friends with the staff, and Hannah becomes well known as the little girl in ‘pink’ with the great big toothless grin.
Now flash forward to five months later. Hannah and Candace still refer to Easter Seals House as home. They are the ones in the playroom, living room and kitchen giving new families a welcoming smile. They are the ones who are telling new comers how to get around the city on transit, where to shop and that it’s going to be okay. The journey hasn’t ended yet; they will continue to call Easter Seals House home for at least another three months. Hannah will have spent a total of eight months at Easter Seals House.
Lucas and his mom Corrina
Imagine the fear future parents must face when they are told they will be flown to Vancouver from their home in Whitehorse for the emergency birth of their son four months early. Suddenly you find yourself in a strange city, far away from the support of your family and friends.
That’s exactly what Lucas’s parents endured. Lucas spent the first four months of his life in Vancouver Children’s Hospital and during this time his parents lived at Easter Seals House. Lucas is now an active 6-year-old with cerebral palsy. He needs both an electric wheelchair and specialized walker for mobility and every four months he returns with his Mom to Easter Seals House for medical follow-ups and continued treatment at the hospital.
“Lucas loves to stay at Easter Seals House because he has the opportunity to meet other kids and it gives him something to look forward to after of a full day of medical procedures and tests. Spending time with other kids takes the stress off everything he goes through at the hospital. I realize it takes a lot of money to run Easter Seals House and there is no way the little amount I pay covers the costs, it’s the donors that make this service possible”
~ Corrina, Lucas’s Mom
Christmas at the Vancouver Easter Seals House
Christmas is a time for over-indulging in big meals and spending quality time at home with family and loved ones. But what if you can't be home because your child is sick? What if you need to stay in Vancouver over the holidays so your child can continue their on-going medical treatment? It's unfortunate, but illness does not understand "holiday" - there is no winter break or new years reset. That's why the Vancouver Easter Seals House is open 365 days a year.
Every year on Christmas day we host a dinner at the Easter Seals House. Once again this year we were ready to put on our hosting hats for the 22 guests who could not go home to be with their families. It's meant to be a work and stress-free dinner for our guests, all they need to do is show up and enjoy, but while we were putting up decorations and setting up furniture, people kept popping out of their rooms wanting to help with the preparations, just as if they were at home.
In a way they were home...people call Easter Seals House a 'home away from home' for a reason. It's not because it's a place to sleep or store things; it's because of the people who stay here, who choose to make the best out of every situation, to be optimistic, and to give their child the best holiday they can. While Christmas away from home may not have been anyone's first choice, it was still a lot of fun. The feast (donated every year by the Pinnacle Hotel Vancouver), was laid out in the 3rd floor community room, lights were put up, decorations were everywhere, music was playing and together we sat down to celebrate the holidays over a great meal as our own little extended Easter Seals family.