The expertise and research developments here in Toronto will benefit kids around the world.
The goal of the Sickkids Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Program is to cure or control food allergy in ten years. I say, “Can we take off a few years? Let’s make it less than ten.” For me, this is personal.
I’m a grandmother of eleven. One of them, my granddaughter Alexandra, is allergic to tree nuts and sesame. I was with her the first time we realized she had an allergy. I saw it. She was two. We were in a restaurant and we gave her a breadstick. My daughter, Sabrina, Alexandra’s mother, and I are busy talking – we’re hardly looking, because Lex (that’s what I call her) was being so cute and terrific.
But the breadstick had sesame. And the next thing you know, her face and eyes were blowing up.we didn’t have a clue what it was, so we ran to the hospital. I remember how frightened my daughter was – it was her first child. And I was too. It’s hard when you see your child suffering because her child is suffering.
It felt like forever until the doctor could tell us what was wrong: she said,“it looks like it’s a food allergy of some sort.” My first thought was “Oh my God, Lex is going to have to live with this.” That was ten years ago, in Washington, DC. Where are we today? I’m here in Toronto. My husband and I have five children between us – in five different cities. Alexandra now lives in London, UK. She’s 12. In her lifetime, she’s had serious reactions three times. She’s very bright, an amazing young lady, if I do say so myself (and I do – she’s my granddaughter). She’s so sure of herself – she knows what to do in a restaurant. She immediately starts talking to a waiter or waitress in her little English accent, and the first thing she’ll say is “I have a nut allergy.”
When I became involved in the Sickkids allergy progam, Alexandra was excited. She wanted to know all about it. When she called, she asked “What did they say? Did you tell them about me?” I told her: “They know that I support them because of you.” It makes me feel connected to her, and hopefully, it helps her see the importance of being pro-active in making a difference. (I think that’s the case: Alexandra and her younger sister Vanessa will have their Bat Mitzvahs together. In honour of their Bat Mitzvahs they will be making gifts to the Sickkids Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Program.). They could have chosen a charity in London, but know that the expertise and research developments here in Toronto will benefit kids around the world one day soon.
My granddaughter may be in London, but I’m a grandmother, and there’s a hospital right here that’s doing something. I want to feel that I am doing something to help not just my granddaughter, but all our children and grandchildren.
“I am doing something to help not just my granddaughter, but all our children and grandchildren.”
That’s what I say to everyone in our community: we have world-class and wonderful doctors and researchers at Sickkids, which is why I’m a donor here, even though my grandaughter’s in London. If you have confidence in the hospital you support – that the research team and the doctors are doing the best work, and they’re going to find something – then be part of that. I have that confidence.
To discuss a donation, call Ayala Beck at Sickkids Foundation: 416-813-7800 or visit sickkidsfoundation.com
Mary and her granddaughter Alexandra.