Daughter’s illness leads mom to fight for EI changes
Too-skinny model debate turns to age.
V alerie Finlayson remembers the uncomfortable feeling of sleeping in a hospital chair and wearing protective garments to avoid infecting her cancer-stricken daughter.
For almost a year, the mother of three practically lived inside the stark walls of a patient room while her youngest daughter, Stephanie, endured nine rounds of cancer treatment.
The 18-year-old university student and call centre worker was diagnosed with advanced acute lymphoblastic leukemia — cancer of the blood — in Sydney on Jan. 27, 2008. She died Boxing Day, the same year.
“Of all the children that were there, there was myself and one other mother,” said Finlayson, an early childhood educator at Playschool Daycare in New Waterford. “ The rest of the children were there alone.”
Finlayson is hoping to change that. She believes families deserve funding to allow parents to support their children while they are being treated for life-threatening illnesses.
She recently began the long process of contacting Canada’s 308 MPs and plans to write Prime Minister Stephen Harper in hopes of changing the federal Employment Insurance benefits program.
Finlayson said because of the risk involved in her daughter’s treatment, doctors said Stephanie would have to travel more than four hours to Halifax’s Victoria General Hospital for intense and often traumatic chemotherapy. It was expected her treatment would last six months to a year.