Thursday, 19 September 2013

A little help from our friends

Thank you. Thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you. I could write it a couple thousand more times if it helped express how blown away we've been this week from the outpouring of support.
Some of it we expected. Once Trish first posted on Facebook that Dominic had leukemia, I knew family and friends would be in shock and offering to do what they could. But what can you really do other than keep us in your thoughts? That's certainly enough as far as I'm concerned. You still have to go about your own lives; knowing folks are pulling for us is hugely comforting.
A couple friends offered food. You don't turn down food. Especially when the hospital kitchen consists of a microwave, toaster oven and a communal fridge or two. The cafeteria's nice but gets expensive quick.
Money is more complicated. Trish was supposed to go back to work Oct. 1, coinciding with the end of her maternity leave. We also just bought a bigger vehicle for our expanding family, the first payment of which will also go through on Oct. 1.
The combination of losing employment insurance and adding debt couldn't have been worse timing. But we quickly decided on some basic strategies to make ends meet until next year when Dom is presumably cured and able to resume his normal life:
- Cancel TV service ($100 a month)
- Get rid of car insurance on our other car ($70 a month)
- Happily take all of the free meals our family and friends are offering (probably worth a few hundred dollars a month)
- Expect lower utility bills at the house we're no longer living at (maybe $80 a month)
- Contact the car dealership and bank to see if there is anything they can do
Most of these steps don't nearly add up to the deficit we face, but the bank may be able to let us skip a few months' worth of mortgage payments.
What we never considered was people flat-out giving us cash or gifts. It's not as though we're hard-done by - our other car is paid off, we don't have student loans anymore and don't carry balances on our credit cards. But as one person told us, the last thing you should have to worry about in this scenario is debt.
As it turned out, one of Trish's sisters was playing in a golf tournament Sunday. A small charity tournament run by Rips Pub & Eatery in southwest Calgary. The charity? The Alberta Children's Hospital.
Once they found out, organizers opted to give us the proceeds.
I still can't believe that happened.
Then my work, the Medicine Hat News, publicized this blog. I'm still not sure whether that or the fact a good friend of ours works for the Medicine Hat Fire Department was the root, but we've been given a cheque as a result. "We are pulling for our little hero," wrote the fire department's communications officer.
See the photo with this entry? That's Dom wearing a shirt with a fire truck on it. The licence plate on the truck? Yep. Hero. We had the shirt out for him to change in to before we found out about the donation that day.
The generosity keeps coming. The owner of iFix Phones texted my wife that he has a one-year-old girl and can't imagine being in our shoes. We don't really know the guy but the randomness of his gift and message caught us off guard.
Other friends say they're going to organize a fundraiser in Calgary. I'm astounded that so many want to do something more than just bless us with positive energy, and I don't know how we'll be able to repay all of them. More blog posts? A thank you card? Hugs?
I'm scared to list all of these donations (nor the amounts) because it strikes me as a touch immoral to publicly single them out and not, say, a relative who has been incredibly supportive in other ways that aren't monetary. Support is support, and it's all appreciated. I furthermore don't want to come across as soliciting donations by naming anybody. At this point I believe we'll make it through this fine. Yet it also feels like the least I can do.
Wednesday night is pizza night here in the cancer ward. I met the couple that runs it and told them about all of our good fortune. How do I properly say thanks, I asked them.
A grey-haired man who could pass as Santa Claus if he grew out his beard a bit more smiled at me.
"Just pay it forward some day," he said.
From the look in his eye I could tell he was speaking from experience.


  1. I have been following your blog since the MHN posted the link. Huge hugs to your family! I wanted to share something that a former Hatter is doing this weekend to raise money for Children's cancer. Misty grew up in MH and moved to Vancouver Island as an RCMP officer. Here is a CTV interview with Misty about her son Griffyn, also diagnosed with cancer as an infant (he is almost 3yrs old now). STAY STRONG!!!

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  3. I CAN, imagine what you are going through. Our daughter Sarah 15 was diagnosed 5 days after your son and sent to the same hospital. I am sure at one point or another we passed in the halls. My heart goes out to the two of you. Would love to tell you when the fog will lift but still in it. One day at a time and lots of prayers and support from friends, family and caring strangers. I will be in touch with James to see what we can do to help you. Have faith and be strong!

  4. Anonymous, if you're in the same boat as us perhaps we could meet up at the hospital and share our stories. Contact me at smrooney at gmail.