Story 59

A mother's fight for caregivers

Colleen and Sharon Ruth

In 2003, Sharon Ruth faced an uphill battle when her 6 year old daughter Colleen was diagnosed with stage 4 lymphoblastic lymphoma. Although devastated, Sharon and her husband, Daniel, did their best to maintain their hope and a positive attitude during Colleen's 3-year cancer journey. In 2006, Colleen was declared cancer-free and today she is an active, healthy teenager.

Amid the treatments, Sharon remembers the financial difficulties the family faced. Even with the federal government's compassionate care program, Sharon could not afford to take much time off from work. Daniel eventually left his job to care for their daughter and the family struggled to make ends meet.

The family's experience inspired Sharon to become an advocate for more support for caregivers. The Canadian Cancer Society's involvement in this advocacy initiative helped bring about a new employment insurance benefit for parents of critically ill children. This new benefit will alleviate some of the financial burden and allow parents more flexibility. It has been an important achievement and Sharon is proud of her involvement.

During the month of April, Sharon wears a daffodil pin to support her daughter and for other caregivers who have endured a similar journey. "I know what they are going through, and I will be thinking of them as I continue my work to ensure caregivers get the support they need and deserve."

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