In 1980, at the age of 14, I was diagnosed with several peptic, duodenal and esophageal ulcers. This was caused by stress and post traumatic events in my life.
When medication did not give me any source of comfort and left me with excruciating pain and many sleepless nights, surgery became the next option. I went on to have one third of my stomach removed by surgeons at CHEO.
This was a very difficult time in my life, and our family was coping with a lot of struggles.
My grandfather Edmond was diagnosed with stage four prostate cancer so my father would travel back and forth every day from work to hospital all while also caring for my grandfather. My mother was working part time night shifts as a Nurse’s Aide in a nursing home. My illness required my mother to take a lot of time off work and away from my little brother Jayson. Because of the high cost of my medications, there was not a lot of money -- but there was lots of love. Through this difficult time in my life, l was lucky to have the support of my circle of care in family, teachers, friends and prayers from neighbours and my parish.
I remember I had the best nurses in the field taking care of me – mom, dad and grandma. I think back to all the times that they got me out of bed and helped me regain my strength and confidence. We were also very thankful for the support we received at Ronald McDonald House.
One person at CHEO that I will always remember was a nurse named Paula. She would sit by my bed and talk to me during her lunch and try and make me laugh. Nurses are always putting patients first, and themselves second. They are heaven-sent! Doctors and Nurses have a ocation……not a job, and let me tell you at CHEO, you do it very well. Love is in your hearts, passion is found in your work ethic, and compassion is found in your souls.
When you are given a second chance in life, be a beacon of light to others. Pay it forward. Live, laugh, and love.
And to all my little brothers and sisters in the CHEO family, big brother is telling you -- keep the faith. You are strong and you will get through it. BELIEVE! But more than anything (and that goes for you too CHEO Staff) YOU ARE LOVED!
Max Keeping once told me in an email: “Live Life to the Max!” And thanks to the incredible talents of Dr. Shirley Chou, the Late Dr. Ken Chew, Dr. McMullin and the entire nursing staff who took care of me at one of the scariest parts of my early teenage years, I CAN!
The mark that CHEO leaves on kids and families is profound. We are not just kids to them. We are a CHEO family.
Today I am 43 years old. I am a healthy artist, singer. I am married and the father of two wonderful adult children who have both used the services of CHEO.
I thank you CHEO. I am touched that I was given the privilege to share my story.