On October 14th, Canuck Place Maureen Laforge spoke to a room of over 600 guests at the 13th annual Gift of Time Gala about her daughter, Angela. A Canuck Place family is invited to speak each year, providing a memorable and emotional aspect of the evening for all in attendance. This year was no different.
Angela was a recent high school graduate living in Campbell River. She was exploring her options: going to college, finding a decent job, falling in love. She was a young adult who was entering a new time in her life.
In January of 2015, her life turned an unexpected corner: she was diagnosed with Chordoma, an aggressive and rare cancer with few treatment options.
“The next six months saw us embark on an overwhelming journey of surgeries, specialized radiation treatments in the US, and numerous trips to doctors in Vancouver,” explained Maureen.
“We were home in Campbell River for only a few weeks at a time, with little time for anything else.”
By the end of the year, tumors had taken the use of Angela’s hands, legs, and even her voice. After a year of battling the cancer, it was clear that this was not a battle they would win, and they were introduced to Canuck Place Children’s Hospice.
“Being the parent of a critically ill child feels like being in the middle of a hurricane, and tornado, and a tsunami all at the same time and all the while your child looks to you to calm the winds, block the flying debris, and hold back the waves – they look to you to save them. ” said Maureen. “It is a most helpless feeling I have ever felt.”
The staff at Canuck Place calmed the storm with love, compassion, and expertise.
“Time seemingly slowed down,” remembers Maureen. “Now our time was experienced in moments, moments we could savour together.”
The Canuck Place team diligently learned everything they could about Angela, not just her medical needs, but also how they could help her experience some of her favourite things.
Like a bubble bath. With help from nurses and a specialized tub, Angela was able to enjoy long, luxurious bubble baths while staying at Canuck Place, a simple pleasure that was no longer possible at home.
On April 16th 2016 Angela passed peacefully, surrounded by friends and family in the Canuck Place gardens.
“It was truly a beautiful transition for our daughter,” said Maureen. “One that she too had hoped for. Angela did not want her final breaths to be in a hospital.
I remember Angela saying, ‘When this is all over don’t let it be a sad story to never speak of, let it be the beginning of a beautiful one.’ The team at Canuck Place had granted her this final wish and made it so.”