Contributed by Canuck Place – Miss604 is a proud partner of Light a Life this season.
Canuck Place Gives Short Lives the Chance to Shine
North Vancouver’s Mireille Larosa and Martin Archambault were alarmed when seven-month-old baby Charles had what would be the first of many tonic-clonic seizures that lasted 30 minutes.
In shock and complete disbelief, they found themselves at Children’s Hospital in the neurosurgery ward, where they were introduced to Canuck Place Children’s Hospice Medical Director, Dr. Hal Siden, and it was in that moment that everything changed. Not only were they faced with the gravity of Charles’ diagnosis with Alper’s Syndrome, a rare and incurable mitochondrial disorder, they were given a saving grace that would keep their family whole during their darkest moments.
“Pediatric palliative care is complex and uncertain and has to be approached as both an art and science,” says Dr. Siden. “The magic of Canuck Place is that we see and recognize the unpredictable, that uncertainty, and we lead with a gentle therapeutic approach that respects the uniqueness of every family’s situation.”
The family, including older brother William, went to Canuck Place directly after being referred from Children’s Hospital. While staying in-hospice, Canuck Place nurses and doctors cared for the whole family and ensured they had the strength and skills to manage Charles’ complex medical care at home.
“I knew I could fully trust them to take care of baby Charles. I could sleep, read a book, spend time with William and Martin and bring back a sense of normal even if only momentarily,” says Mireille. “Canuck Place nurses cared for me wholeheartedly too, they empowered me and taught me so much.”
In addition to the complex medical care they received both in-hospice and in-home through the 24-hour clinical careline, the family also received invaluable grief and bereavement support from Canuck Place counsellors.
“The terminal diagnosis of our sweet baby Charles shattered me to my core. Canuck Place counsellors helped me navigate my new reality, guide me, ground me, and by extension my family, as our world fell apart,” says Mireille.
Every light is precious, no matter how long it shines. Baby Charles’ light, with his beautiful golden hair, and his big brown joyful eyes, shone bright and touched the lives of many. The Canuck Place clinical team helped the Archambault-Larosas create lasting memories that are now priceless reminders of a life lived.
“The day Charles passed away, William had an excursion to a farm with Canuck Place recreational therapists, and brought back a sunflower for Charles. To this day, sunflowers have a special meaning for us,” says Martin.
There is a sense of isolation that comes from caring for a terminally ill child. Death and grieving of a child are unthinkable. Canuck Place makes dying a part of living; they honour a family’s individual grief journey, which reduces suffering and helps the whole family live well after the child has passed.
“To all the donors, no amount of words can explain how important Canuck Place is to our family,” says Martin. “The care we received allowed us to get through the toughest time of our lives. We are stronger than ever as a couple, and William has made new, joyful memories of baby Charles with his younger brother Theo.”
For 25 years, Canuck Place Children’s Hospice has been providing exceptional complex medical care, while helping children and families embrace living fully with the time they have left together. But not without donor support. Light a life this holiday season for Canuck Place children like Charles. Light the way. Give today.
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