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Why we Support Canuck Place Children's Hospice ???


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Blog by Bettina Reid | March 16th, 2014


Canuck Place

Children aren't supposed to die....they aren't supposed to get sick and not recover. What is even harder to bear is when a child gets sick and then has to watch her mother get sick and die herself in just a short few months after diagnosis....

This story is one very close to home for our family, over the last few months we've followed the diffiicult journey of a girl our daughter played soccer with a few years ago. Yesterday she passed away at Canucks Place Childrens Hospice after battling cancer for the past year. 

The soccer community is a small community when your daughter plays soccer in it for 8 years....you tend to get to know a lot of the players from different teams throughout the lower mainland. That is how we knew Ashley even though she was a Richmond player. Our daughter's best season of soccer was the season she played with Ashley for Coastal in the summer Y- league. Ashley had been on this particular Coastal team with Coach Gregor Young the previous summer along with many of the other girls. This was Shantelle's 1st time playing for Coastal and she was one of only a few, not only younger girls, but girls from outside of the Vancouver/Richmond area. As parents, why Ashley stood out for us...was her acceptance of our daughter as a team mate but also as a fellow defender. On any team players have to earn respect from their team mates, prove they can carry their weight. Even more so when you haven't played against them before and had no idea how they play. Players need to know they can trust you to play the game with them as a team. Ashley and Shantelle played well together on the back line that summer because Ashley gave our daughter a chance. That summer Shantelle played the best soccer of her life and more importantly had the best time of her life playing. She truly enjoyed playing soccer on that team with Ashley and all the girls and learned so much from a great coach. We didn't know Ashley other than what we saw of her on that team, accepting our daughter as a part of the team. She was a nice girl and a strong player, a pleasure to watch.

When we heard of her battle last year and started following her plight, we couldn't help but feel for her. As parents, it hit close to home, its one thing to hear about a complete stranger and feel sympathy for what they are going through. It is another when you can put a face to it and realize it has happened to someone we know.

Because we knew who she was, natural curiosity had us following her ordeal, hoping for the best. Ashley was diagnosed with cancer in her last year of highschool. She went through chemotherapy the first time round with her mother at her side. Then with a cruel twist of fate her mother was diagnosed with cancer last summer and she lost her battle in only a short few months. Ashley relapsed again after her mother passed and just recently was brought to Canuck Place Childrens Hospice to try and help her and her family through her last days by giving her a better place to pass instead of being in the hospital. 

The world seemed to get even smaller last week...my husband's work had participated in a paying it forward type event where one of the staff had given Ashley a small gift to cheer her up. My husband asked around to see who it was, to see if they knew how she was doing. Only to find out it was one of his favourite colleagues and this colleague wsa Ashley's Aunt. He sought out her aunt and asked how she was doing sharing how we knew her.....Ashley's Aunt shared with him just how tough it had been for the whole family and how Ashley was doing at Canuck Place. It took everything for him not to cry as tears ran down her face while she talked. As soon as he was back in his office he broke down and called me to share what had just happened and how close Ashley was to the end. Now her story was that much more real and you couldn't help but feel for her and all of her family. 

Canuck Place was the first free standing Children's Hospice in North America, it opened in 1995 and since then has helped many children with life threatening illnesses and their families.

"Through all stages of a child’s illness, an individual program is designed to meet the needs of each family.  Services include 24/7 physician and nursing support and consultative services, end-of-life care, pain and symptom management, respite care, school, music and play therapy, recreation opportunities and counseling.  The counseling services are available to parents, siblings, loved ones and the child, to assist them in finding the courage and resources to cope with their challenges both during the child’s illness and after the child dies."

Our hearts go out to the Chen family and friends. We cannot even imagine what they are all going through. 

I am proud that once again Homelife Benchmark Realty offices are participating in our 13th annual Charity Golf Tournament with proceeds benefitting Canuck Place Childrens Hospice. This year I will be volunteering my time on the committee in honour of Ashley and her family. Knowing first hand how Canuck Place helps children and their families is why we support Canuck Place Childrens Hospice.