At three months old, Kaitlin Sidhu was diagnosed with semilobal holoprosencephaly, a rare brain malformation that can result in muscle spasms, seizures, and deformities. On the heels of this devastating news was a cancer diagnosis, which meant baby Kaitlin spent most of the first three years of her life in hospital.
A devastating experience for any family. Parents, Amanda and Robert thought they’d exhausted their medical avenues. But then, they were introduced Dr. Hal Siden and Canuck Place Children’s Hospice. “He came into the room, looked Kaitlin over and listened to everything she’d been through. He had some ideas of what we could do to reduce her pain and symptoms and we felt so relived there were options out there,” said mom, Amanda.
But, becoming part of Canuck Place was scary, “because it’s a hospice,” said Amanda. “Most people think ‘end of life.’” But that wasn’t Kaitlin’s case. Canuck Place could offer Kaitlin help with pain and symptom management and could provide her parents with much-needed respite.
“The best memory and feeling I have from my first experience with Canuck Place is that very first day we walked through the doors. It was an instant sense of relief. We were surrounded by a huge team who were there to look after our little girl, and our family.”
Like any home, the kitchen is central to Canuck Place. After months of eating hospital cafeteria food and pre-made Safeway meals the Sidhus were ready for some Canuck Place TLC. “I remember that first night we stayed at Canuck Place. It was amazing the spread that the kitchen and the chefs made for us.”
Kaitlin and her family’s first stay at Canuck Place was for six weeks. They never once worried about how to get breakfast, lunch or dinner. All those details were taken care of so that the family could focus on helping Kaitlin.
“I remember having a really bad day. A staff member knocked on my door with a full plate of my favourite cookies and it just made my day. It was amazing!”
Without Canuck Place in their lives, Amanda says her family may have fallen apart. Kaitlin had spent so much time in a hospital and Canuck Place was where the family could reunite and share time and space together. “Canuck Place saved our family, for sure.”
Something as small as a home-cooked meal can nourish the spirit. When was the last time you let someone do something special for you?
You can support Canuck Place families by donating today.