In front of a crowd of over 560 guests nurse practitioner, Camara van Breemen spoke about her experience of working at Canuck Place for 21 years.
She explained that when she shares what she does for work, she often hears responses like “Oh you must be an angel” or “I could never work there – I’m far too sensitive,” and finds herself at a loss for how to respond.
“I can understand why the person said it. The work at the hospice is hard,” she said. “It is painful to imagine the sadness and distress of children and families and difficult to understand why people like myself, and others, choose to enter into that world.”
Before a captivated audience she shared why and how she does her job.
“For 21 years, Canuck Place has grown in our practice through research efforts by so many across the world,” she said. “Palliative care is a science and art and, to do this well, we need to be knowledgeable in both.”
She also acknowledged the impact of the many supportive donors in the room.
“You make my job possible. Your gifts fund programs that we know are helpful to our families. Without you, there would be no way we could be creative and thoughtful. There would be no way to fund complex, yet necessary, care that treats pain, distress and suffering.
“We have the ability to walk with families in the last days, weeks, months, and years with their child. We can continue to care and support siblings and parents in the loneliness that follows.
“It is you that has enabled us to journey alongside families in their happiest and their darkest days.
“The reason I do this work is because of the children and their families. Even as I say those words, images of little faces and beautiful families flood my mind. There are families here tonight whose children I will never forget.
“In my work, I see sadness and suffering. But I also see love and grace. I feel so honoured that families and children allow us to be part of their journey to come to know them and then to hopefully provide them with support that makes their journey easier.
“I, as do others, wish that there didn’t need to be a Canuck Place. But there is a need and that is why I, and so many others, walk up that path each morning, or each night shift, to enter into that beautiful house that you make possible.”
The 2016 Gift of Time Gala raised over $1.1 million for children across BC living with life-threatening illnesses and the families who love them.