The Girl Next Door

It’s funny how life sometimes throws you little curveballs just to see how you deal with things.  My daughter, Vista, went in for a MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) recently. The MRI might help us understand what is causing some of her developmental problems (she has what are termed ‘global delays’ that affect her movement and speech) as well as perhaps finding the source of her seizures. This was her first MRI, but we’ve been living with tests, specialist appointments, and questions for the past 2 years, ever since she was born. A lot of friends and family comment that we almost have a blasé attitude towards the whole thing, but that’s not it at all.  We take the position that while we do have our own struggles on a daily basis, there’s always someone out there that’s worse off so we choose to (a la Monty Python) ‘always look on the bright side of life’.

We don’t have far to look to find a family that makes our life look like a walk in the park. Our good friends, Mark and Lee, live right next door to us. They’ve got three wonderful kids (you know, the type of kids that you actually like to be around). But last summer their world was blown apart when their middle daughter, Nathalie was diagnosed with cancer.  And not just any cancer… a brain tumor. She’s only seven years old. So they’ve spent the last year learning the ins and outs of chemotherapy, radiation treatment, and multiple daily doses of drugs that us mere mortals can only try to pronounce, let alone comprehend.

But through it all, Nat’s parents have maintained a similar outlook on life when it comes to their daughter. No matter how dark things may seem, there’s always someone out there who’s worse off than you. You roll with the punches and you celebrate the good times.

Thankfully, Nat is finally back home and now trying to get back to what we might consider a “normal” life, complete with attending school.  Unfortunately, the brain tumor has affected Nat’s life in very profound ways.  For example, she can no longer perform certain simple movements.  Like holding a pencil.  Makes it hard to go to school if you can’t write. But getting to the real point of my post…

Throughout Natalie’s treatment we’ve been able to glean little tidbits of information from our friends (they’re not the type to complain, so sometimes you only get the real story when they let something slip).  Information like the fact it costs them $600 - $700 a week in out-of-pocket costs (for drugs and various other medical supplies) to have Nat out of the hospital.  That’s after their drug plan covers most of the cost.  That’s an additional $2400 they have to come up with each month to have their daughter at home while they slowly wean her off all the medications she’s on.  Contrary to popular opinion, Health Care in Canada, doesn’t cover everything. 

So in addition to that $2400 a month, they’re now trying to find the money to purchase Nat a laptop with Dragon Naturally Speaking on it, so that she can begin her return to school and still be able to keep up with the class.

After much thought, I decided to throw this out to my readers.  I’m hoping someone out there knows a way for us to try to get the laptop and software for Nat. While it might not seem like a huge expenditure to some, for a family that has to deal with the medication and out of pocket expenses Nat’s family have gone through for the past year, it’s a luxury priced necessity that’s hard to come by. If you can help in some way, or know of a company who would act as a corporate sponsor for this, we would like to try to get Nat up and running with her schoolwork. She’s a bright kid with an even brighter future who looks forward to every day she has with amazing passion and tenacity. Here’s hoping we can make things a little easier for her.

Feel free to contact me directly by phone (403.399.9375), email, or in the comments section of this blog entry if would like to help Nat and her family specifically. I know there are many ways and channels an individual can express their charity, so if you are unable to help, please do not feel obligated. I recognize times are tough for everyone these days. If you do want to help globally rather than individually, you can always make a donation to the Canadian Cancer Society or Ronald McDonald House who are the true leaders in the fight against Cancer and helping kids and their families get through difficult times.

Update: Someone asked if they could donate money for Nat and suggested I put up a Donate PayPal button so here is it. All money raised will go directly to Nat and her family. Thanks for your generous donations and help!

Update #2: Through kind and generous donations, we've been able to secure a laptop for Nat. As a result of the PayPal donation button that we put up, we've also been able to raise over $1000 for the family. This is way beyond my original hope and a great gift for the family. I really am amazed at the power of the Internet and so grateful for everyone who has contributed to the family. I'll be posting a follow-up blog entry once we give Nat her new laptop and the family the money. If you still want to donate to the family that would be awesome as we didn't even originally put that up as part of this blog entry (it was added as a result of a note from Paul Jackson).

Update #3: We have the laptop now (thanks to an awesome donation by Dave Woods!) a copy of Dragon Professional (courtesy of the Dragon folks) and a large donation of $$$ for the family. We're presenting this to the family on Nat's birthday on Tuesday. Going to be a heck of a party. Followup blog and pics coming shortly.

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  • Keep us posted on how close you are to getting enough money for this. I donated some and will donate more later if needed.

  • Bil, I just sent you an email about an extra copy of Dragon that I have.

  • I second the idea of the PayPal donation button. Many hands make light work!

  • I've had several friends and family die from cancer, luckily none were as young as Nat and thankfully she seems to be making it through and has wonderful sounding family and friends like you. I've donated a bit via PayPal. I hope you'll update us on the laptop and hopefully more will be donated than is needed for the laptop to help offset some of the medical expenses.

  • I'm with Aaron Smith. Keep us posted.

  • People are good! Thank you to Bill and all his readers. Our daughter is getting better daily and is very thankful for all the good people out there. Bill, we are truly fortunate to have you, Jen and Vista as neighbours, but even more importantly as friends. Thanks again to all of you.

    Mark Bazinet
    Nat's DAD

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