One Family’s Story

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" Seeing your child hospitalized causes stress and anxiety that is very difficult to cope with. You’d do anything to help them get their health back, and you wouldn’t wish the drama they’re going through on your worst enemy. "

But what do you do when you find out your child’s medical needs cannot be met at your regional hospital, and they must be sent to Montreal to receive highly-specialized treatment? And, what goes through a child’s mind when you tell them that?

In 2002, we had to face this hard reality and, like thousands of other parents, we had to answer the first three questions that come up when a child is given this kind of news: Am I going to get better?, or, if they’re a little older, Am I going to die? And the next question… How long will I have to stay in Montreal far away from home and my friends? And finally, the only question that you can answer with any certainty: Are you coming with me?

Besides having to deal with a sense of helplessness and extreme  anxiety, you must also completely reorganize your family life and professional life. Who is going to take care of the other children left at home? How do you tell your boss you have to stop working? What will you live on? How do you manage the considerable increase in expenses that you now must face: living expenses in Montreal as well as continuing to pay your mortgage, travel expenses, parking, phone bills, food (since you will be eating mostly at the hospital cafeteria, and won’t have to time to go grocery shopping to take care of the rest of the family)….

In 2002, our daughter was transferred to Sainte-Justine Hospital for what we were told would be a two-week stay. Isabelle stayed there for 110 days, during which time, thanks to the extraordinary support of the Ronald McDonald House, we were able to accompany her nearly 24 hours a day before she passed away following a tragic turn of events. Staying at the House allowed us to share this time with other parents from across the province who had also given up everything to stay close to their child. We met families who stayed for short visits and we also met parents who were there for 3 months, 6 months, 9 months and even a whole year, without any help other than the Ronald McDonald House to get through this difficult ordeal.

Text from Jean-Luc Dumont and Jeanne Fugère