The Janeway Children’s Health and Rehabilitation Centre has been a place of caring for 50 years – since its opening in August of 1966.
At this time, the thoughts of our Janeway employees return to many of our young patients and the experiences they have shared with them over the years.
The health-care workers at the Janeway are forever remembered by the children they care for. Often, their paths continue to cross – either inside or outside the hospital walls – and staff have the opportunity to watch the children they’ve cared for grow and thrive as adults.
In August, we are celebrating 50 years of those kinds of bonds between children and their health-care teams, and hear hundreds of inspiring stories – just like the one Florence Williams tells:
My name is Florence Williams and I began my career at the Janeway 36 years ago. I have worked in the Child Life Department as a recreation therapist for most of this time.
The Child Life Department helps our young patients and their families deal with a wide variety of stressful, potentially traumatic events that can overwhelm their ability to cope and heal. We advocate family-centered care and try our best to ensure that life remains as normal as possible for children in hospital.
We know being hospitalized can lead to feelings of fear, loss of control and confusion, which may have negative effects on a patient’s emotional and physical health. Our priority is to help patients cope with stress, the uncertainty of illness and being hospitalized through recreation.
I have many wonderful memories and stories from working at the Janeway. One particular story that stands out, is about a patient that I have had the pleasure of meeting in 1980. Her name was Cindy Bragg, and she was a patient of our oncologist at that time, Dr. R. Dominic. Cindy had been diagnosed with Hodgkin’s disease.
Hodgkin’s Disease is a type of cancer that starts in the white blood cells known as lymphocytes, which are a part of the immune system. Cindy’s tests revealed that there was a large node in her chest, and her spleen that was full of cancer had to be removed.
To treat the cancer, Cindy went through chemotherapy and radiation for one year. After her treatments, Cindy went into complete remission for about a year.
Unfortunately, in 1984, a routine check-up showed that Hodgkin’s disease had returned and Cindy had another large node removed from her chest. After receiving more chemotherapy, Cindy went into full remission once more, and was monitored regularly for checkups.
Fast forward five years, in 1989, Cindy was getting married. As she was now too old to be treated at the Janeway, she had been seeing an oncologist at the Health Sciences Centre, but she continued to stay in touch with us at the Janeway.
In the summer of 1994, we learned Cindy’s health taken another kind of turn when she suffered from a right-sided stroke, putting her in recovery mode for a month. It was then that she was informed that she would never have children.
Nonetheless, five years later, Cindy beat the odds yet again when she became the proud mother of a beautiful baby boy on May 28, 1999.
“You have made history!” Dr. Dominic told her. When Cindy told me what he said, she had the biggest smile.
After all these years, whenever I happen to meet Cindy, she always greets me with a smile and a hug. She fondly remembers all of her Janeway experiences with me and my co-workers.
It gives me such a proud and rewarding feeling to know that I helped make this young woman’s Janeway stay a lot more pleasant.
We stand ready to continue to help patients like the young Cindy.
As we mark the 50th anniversary of this special place, I find myself reflecting not just on my former patients, but at the many changes that have taken place within the Janeway.
However, there is one thing that remains the same: the passion that all the staff have for our patients and families. I have been so fortunate to have met so many children and families over the years, and to have worked with so many wonderful “Janeway” people.
That is truly something worth celebrating! ■
This story was written by Florence Williams, a recreation therapy worker with the Child Life Department at the Janeway Children’s Health and Rehabilitation Centre.