Canuck Place Children’s Hospice provides support to hundreds of kids with life-threatening illnesses and their families every year. Around 728 children and families were supported last year alone, including Melissa and Allan McLeod.
The Abbotsford couple were first introduced to Canuck Place back in December of 2016 when their son, Oliver, was just eight days old.
During labour and delivery, the infant suffered severe complications due to a lack of oxygen. He was transferred to hospital via Air Ambulance, mere hours after he was born.
“One of the hardest of the 18 days we spent in the NICU was day six,” said Melissa. “That was the day an MRI confirmed what the doctors had expected. Oliver had damage on both sides of his brain and would have significant, long-term brain damage… if he pulled through.”
Shortly after his prognosis, the McLeods were introduced to Canuck Place.
“To be honest, we didn’t really know who they were,” said Melissa. “My husband knew them as the ‘Telethon people’ from Vancouver Canuck games, and I knew less than that.”
That afternoon, they learned their son qualified for care at Canuck Place as a child in B.C. with a life-threatening condition.
While Oliver had been progressing normally in some ways, the McLeods still faced an uphill battle. The damage caused at birth was taking its toll, and his body was getting tired.
“A Canuck Place counsellor and nurse came to the hospital to see Oliver, and offer their support,” said Melissa. “It was during that time that they offered to bring us, as a family, to hospice in Vancouver.”
At this time, Canuck Place – Dave Lede House in Abbotsford was only offering outpatient care.
That night they were transferred to Canuck Place Vancouver, giving Oliver, and his parents a peaceful, quiet, and loving place of refuge, while they prepared for the unavoidable.
On Feb. 10, 2017 at around 11 a.m., their baby passed away in their arms.
The following days and months were dark. The couple received counselling and joined a bereavement group that operates out of Dave Lede House in Abbotsford.
“Both the counselling and bereavement groups were made possible for us by the fact that Dave Lede House is here in the Fraser Valley,” said Melissa, noting that Allan works in Langley and she in Abbotsford. “If we had to drive to Vancouver for all those meetings, most of them would not have happened. We are so proud that Canuck Place – Dave Lede House is in our hometown, and gives the chance for others in our community and around BC to benefit from the work they do.”
Located on a 1.5 acre site adjacent to Abbotsford Regional Hospital and Cancer Centre, Canuck Place – Dave Lede House is a purpose-built facility that reflects the warm, family environment that is characteristic of Canuck Place in Vancouver with updated amenities. Currently, Dave Lede House operates four inpatient beds and four family suites.
Inpatient care is currently operating four days per week with the move to full-time inpatient services in 2019.
- medical respite and family support
- pain and symptom management
- 24-hour phone consultation support and in-house, in-hospital clinical care
- music, art and recreation therapy
- education, grief, and loss counselling
- end-of-life care
For the McLeod’s, Canuck Place was a source of comfort during their darkest days.
“There is nothing that rocks you to your core, like the loss of a child,” said Melissa. “In those darkest hours, when no one knows what to do, or what to say, when all hope seems lost, there are few bright lights that shine through the darkness. Canuck Place Children’s Hospice is one of those lights.
On Saturday, Feb. 23, 2019, Canuck Place celebrated its 5th annual Gift of Love Gala presented by MNP at the Abbotsford Centre.
The signature event raised over $550,000, a new record total, supporting the complex care of B.C’.s children with life-threatening illnesses and the families who love them in the Fraser Valley and across BC.
With Canuck Place – Dave Lede House increasing its inpatient services to full-time care in 2019, this gala helps provide critical funding to reach that goal and sustain care closer to home for Fraser Valley residents who make up 47% of families on program.
In the past five years, the event in partnership with the Fraser Valley community, has raised over $1.7 million for Canuck Place children and families.
To find out more about Canuck Place Children’s Hospice, visit http://www.canuckplace.org.
disclaimer: this is a sponsored post.