FIGHT­ING THE FLU

Jude’s Le­gacy How a Tragic Death In­spired One Mother to Pro­mote Flu Preven­tion.

National Post (Latest Edition) - - SPORTS - Ishani Nath

This used to be Jill Pro­moli’s favourite time of year. Be­tween Hal­loween, her birth­day in Novem­ber, Christ­mas and the birthdays of her young children, the months were filled with love and fes­tiv­i­ties.

“We like to cel­e­brate and make a big deal out of all these things, be­cause life is short,” she says. But this year, the 34-year- old Mis­sis­sauga mom isn’t sure how she will make it through.

It has been less than a year since Pro­moli lost her 2-year- old son Jude to a strain of the in­fluenza virus, com­monly known as the flu, and she is still com­ing to terms with the dev­as­tat­ing loss.

“I wake up and go to bed ev­ery sin­gle day re­mem­ber­ing that Jude is not here any­more, and it’s aw­ful,” she says.

Jude’s story

Pro­moli’s twin boys, Thomas and Jude, were a dy­namic duo. Jude was the leader. What­ever mis­chief he got into, Thomas would fol­low. So when Pro­moli walked into the boys’ nurs­ery and only Thomas popped up from his crib to greet her, she in­stantly knew some­thing was wrong.

Within an hour of Pro­moli find­ing her son’s mo­tion­less body in his crib, start­ing com­pres­sions, calling paramedics and get­ting to a hospi­tal, Jude was pro­nounced dead. It was Mother’s Day­week­end.

“Even now with all the in­for­ma­tion we have, it’s im­pos­si­ble to wrap our heads around,” says Pro­moli.“It’s notwhatyou ex­pect to hap­pen, ever.”

Pro­tect each other

The coro­ner de­ter­mined that though both the twins, as well as Pro­moli’s older six-yearold daughter Isla had got­ten their im­mu­niza­tions, Jude had died of the flu — a viral in­fec­tion that can be ex­tremely se­ri­ous for in­fants, se­niors, and those who are i mmuno-com­pro­mised. According to Sta­tis­tics Canada, the virus kills 3,500 Cana­di­ans each year.

Al­though, as seen in Jude’s tragic case, the flu shot does not suc­ceed in mak­ing ev­ery­one im­mune to the in­fec­tion, Pro­moli has made it her mis­sion to ad­vo­cate for the vac­cine, ex­plain­ing that it’s about more than the in­di­vid­ual. “The flu had to be passed along from a lot of peo­ple be­fore it made its way to Jude in May,” she says. This is the ba­sis of herd im­mu­nity, the idea that if more peo­ple get im­mu­nized, it will help to re­duce the over­all risk of con­tract­ing an ill­ness. “It’s not just about pro­tect­ing our­selves, it’s about pro­tect­ing the peo­ple around us,” says Pro­moli.

A mother’s mes­sage

Pro­moli de­scribes the loss that her fam­ily has suffered as “hell on earth,” but she is de­ter­mined to use Jude’s story to spread in­for­ma­tion about the im­por­tance of get­ting the flu shot.

With Jude gone, Pro­moli says she is keep­ing his mem­ory alive by shar­ing sto­ries about her vi­va­cious lit­tle boy with her surviving children.

“Jude is not here, but he’s still very much a part of us.”

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