“I never realized how important a children’s hospice was,” said Melinda Vargus. “I can’t even begin to imagine what we would have done if we didn’t have Canuck Place.”
Two years ago seven year-old Dawn Vargus was diagnosed in an inoperable brain tumor. It grew aggressively, and only three months later, Dawn and her family came to Canuck Place.
“When we first arrived, I was terrified.” remembers mom, Melinda. “But Dawn loved it there. She loved the arts and crafts area as well as the music room and the garden. And of course, the wonderful nurses! She had favourites everywhere she went.”
Dawn and her family stayed at Canuck Place for two weeks, surrounded in peace, joy, and a specialized medical team, trained to provide a full spectrum of care not only to Dawn, but to her entire family. When Dawn passed, she was able to have her closest friends and family surrounding her. Staff pushed beds together in Dawn’s room so her mom could lie with her, holding her hand as she left this world.
“I miss my baby girl,” said Melinda. “I desperately wish she was here to celebrate Christmas with our family this year. Dawn loved the holidays. The bright lights, the decorations, visiting with friends and family. And of course – the treats! She was always bright and happy, laughing at silly jokes, even when she was sick and in the hospital. There was never a time when she was miserable.”
Canuck Place continues to support Melinda and her family as they navigate their grief. The entire family attends bereavement group meetings, including six year-old Jesse.
“This support group is the only place he can really talk about Dawn with other kids who actually understand what he’s feeling,” said Melinda. “Although it’s painful, it’s also very healing to share our memories of Dawn with others who have lost children and siblings of their own.”
The Vargus family would like to invite you to Light a Life with Canuck Place – Spread joy and light this season by honouring or celebrating someone in your life. Your gift helps Canuck Place support families like Melinda’s, providing extended care, and helping them experience joy and comfort whenever possible.