“There are many things that make Canuck Place not just special, but extraordinary.”
Shea Fell was born on a December day in Prince George, and was soon diagnosed with an extremely rare genetic skin condition called Junctional Epidermolysis Bullosa. Children born with the condition have very fragile skin that blisters extremely easily and there is no cure.
Devastated and terrified, parents Christy and Bryn were brought to Vancouver, where they were introduced to the clinical team at Canuck Place where they found the support they needed.
Shea required special bandages, clothing, feeding supplies, and medicine and the Canuck Place team familiarized themselves with every detail of his unique needs immediately.
“When we arrived at the hospice, the team was so supportive,” said Christy. “Everyone, including the chef, gardener, nurses, doctors, and volunteers, put us at ease. Shea was cared for in the most exceptional way. But more importantly, he was loved too.”
During their time at the house, the family was able to make precious memories together. Shea tasted chocolate ice cream for the first time on a recreation therapy outing, and the family arranged picnics in the garden, secure in the knowledge that a nurse was only moments away.
Bryn and Christy wanted to return to Prince George so Shea could live in the comfort of their own home, surrounded by friends and family. The Canuck Place team worked with them to ensure they had the skills and tools needed to care for their child at home.
This included everything from administering medication to working through the four-hour process of changing bandages. Throughout it all, Canuck Place was still there, available any time, day or night, via the 24-hour nursing care line.
“Being from a smaller northern community, having access to our team in Vancouver at all hours gave us great piece-of-mind,” explained Christy.
Eventually, Shea became increasingly ill and the family returned to the hospice. For Bryn and Christy it was a gift of beautiful time with Shea, where they could focus on just loving him as mom and dad, and not primary caregiving.
“Shea’s needs were very complex, but it was clear the Canuck Place staff were experts,” says Christy. “Everything was focused on Shea, with our family involved every step of the way.”
In Shea’s final days his parents were able to simply hold him all day long, giving him nothing but love and attention.
Care for the Fell family didn’t end when Shea passed away. The family continues to be supported through bereavement counselling.
“The Canuck Place staff has a complete understanding that grief never goes away,” explained Christy. “We feel that we can pick up the phone or visit and find immediate support whenever we need it.”
Christy and Bryn recently welcomed a baby girl to their family. She is happy and healthy and the Fells are looking forward to her first Christmas this year.
You can support families like the Fells. Donate to Canuck Place.