There are two beds in Chelsea Caines’ room at the Janeway hospital in St. John’s. The fourteen-year-old’s roommate is her mother, Torina Caines. Chelsea was admitted to the Janeway in August 2011 when her back and stomach pain became severe. She was diagnosed with leukemia the following month and has spent the majority of her time since then undergoing chemotherapy at the Janeway, her mother by her bedside.
“I just broke down and cried,” Chelsea said of being told she has cancer.
Shortly after her diagnosis, Chelsea was told she qualified for a wish from the Children’s Wish Foundation (CWF).
Chelsea decided she’d like a makeover for her bedroom in the family’s home in Rencontre East — a remote Fortune Bay community not accessible by road.
Chelsea chose green and blue bedding with matching curtains and pillows. She also picked out new flooring, a bedroom set, blue chandelier, lamp, and a large flat screen TV.
The CWF shipped Chelsea’s new furniture and accessories to her home by ferry.
Chelsea’s father Corey Caines laid the new floor. Her 17-year-old sister Kaitlyn and 12-year-old sister Hayley also helped get things ready for Chelsea’s homecoming.
Chelsea also has a brother. Twenty-year-old Corey Caines is a student at Keyin College in St. John’s.
Chelsea’s new room was ready and waiting for her in January. However, her illness delayed her first trip home since October by several weeks.
Chelsea finally got to go home Feb. 20, albeit for less than a week.
“I felt like a princess,” she said when asked how she liked her new room.
Chelsea has a photo album with pictures of her new bedroom and recent trip home.
In one of the photos there’s a wall hanging to the right of her bed which says “I have a hero … His name is Daddy.”
Chelsea was always her father’s girl, Torina says.
Chelsea nods and smiles at her mother’s remark.
“We would always go up to the cabin and go for rides and go out in the boat.”
During her few days home recently, Chelsea spent as much time outdoors with her father as she could. They had a wiener roast on the beach. She built a tiny snowman.
Chelsea also visited her Nan and Pop Florence and Reg Caines.
The memories have been captured on camera and will keep her company until she gets home again.
Chelsea has a picture of her favourite singer over her bed at the Janeway. Josh Ramsay is the lead singer in Marianas Trench.
She holds up a white T-shirt with a photo of Ramsay on the front that staff in the Janeway’s child life department made for her.
Chelsea has turned her own thoughts and feelings about cancer into a song.
“I was nervous for what was coming.
But I felt I had to stay strong
For everyone else.”
“I have to believe in the strength I have, trust my instincts.
Don’t give up, have faith, believe in myself.”
Chelsea certainly isn’t giving up. She’ll do whatever she has to, she says, to get better.
In 2011 the CWF granted 43 wishes in this province. Wish co-ordinator Valerie Geary said so far this year 55 wishes have been approved and 18 more are in the consultation phase.
Geary says the wishes are made possible because of individuals, groups, businesses and others who support the organization.
“Each year the numbers are growing and we are glad that we will never say no to a child that fits our criteria. Each child and wish is very unique from a decorated bedroom to wanting to visit Beaumont Hamel,” Geary said.
Torina says the family’s connection with wish foundation didn’t end with Chelsea’s wish.
Geary has become a friend, she said, and continues to visit Chelsea at the hospital.
Staff at the Janeway have also been great, Torina, said with the music therapist and the recreation staff coming to Chelsea’s room because she’s not well enough to participate in activities with other children.
“When I get up I get weak in the back of my legs.”
Torina says leaving her husband and other daughters at home is difficult.
However, she says, her family has great support in the community.
She’s grateful for that support, she said, and would like everyone to know Chelsea is getting the best of care.
“The doctors and nurses are so good here. Everyone here, even those working in the kitchen, go above and beyond for Chelsea. You just can’t express how much all of this means to us.”
Chelsea will continue chemotherapy for at least another couple of months but is concentrating on getting well and getting released from hospital.
“I can’t wait to get back home to my new room and to get to hang out with my friends again.”