They gathered by the hundreds. They sang hymns, offered prayers, shared stories and shined a light in the cold, wet darkness of a November night.
The community of Conception Bay South came together this week to offer support to the Mercer Family as their youngest child, Riley, fights the battle of his life against cancer. The Mercers lost their first child almost eleven years ago to this same disease. I was never more proud to be a member of this community and I was never more thankful for the health of my own children.
While I do not know the Mercer family personally, hearing their story touched me to my core. As a parent, the thought of either one of my children suffering is unimaginable to me. The thought of losing either of them, simply too much to comprehend. However, as I write this post there are 10,000 children in Canada with some form of Cancer and 1500 more will be diagnosed in the coming year.
Until actually faced with this type of life altering event, none of us can truly know how we would cope. But I am certain that, like Riley’s parents, we would be by our child’s side through every moment.
Sometimes a diagnosis is not about life or death, but simply about how to move forward. For example, Autism now affects 1 in 84 children in Canada and a shocking 1 in 54 boys. It has touched both my family and my circle of friends. One parent left her career to participate fully in the Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA) program with her child. In the other situation, considerable resources were used to put together a network of professional therapists, physicians and respite workers to provide the child and family with every possible opportunity to thrive. In all cases, Autism changed how these families saw the world and how they functioned within it.
For a parent in any of these situations, life may sometimes seem to stand still. However, the reality is that the trappings of life continue. Bills still need to get paid. Groceries still need to be bought. Creditors don’t care why you are late making a payment. Compassionate Care Benefits pay a maximum of $501 per week for a period of six weeks. Then what? Use up all vacation time and sick leave? Hope co-workers donate their own sick leave to help out? Accept the kindness of a community of people who imagine themselves in your place and are compelled to act? The answer is you do whatever you have to do so that you can be there for your son or daughter.
Obviously, no parent wants to think of anything happening to their children or to their children’s health. Nonetheless, it is our responsibility to act on their behalf and to make choices that protect them now and in the future. We make decisions every day for their wellbeing; which snacks to pack, which activities to sign them up for, when to go to the doctor. One of those decisions should also be to add Juvenile Critical Illness Insurance to your family’s overall financial plan. Often referred to as the “I want my Mommy “protection, it affords a parent the financial freedom to do what they are going to do anyway: be with their child when they are sick.
Like Critical Illness coverage for adults, this type of protection provides a tax free, lump sum amount if a child is diagnosed with a covered critical illness. The proceeds can be used however they are needed, whether to travel out of province for treatment or to just keep the wolves away.
No one wants to think of anything happening to their children or to their children’s health. But if it does, you’re going to need all your strength to get through each and every day. Don’t waste any of that energy wondering where the next dollar is coming from.