On August 7, 2008, Arlene Juby received a phone call from her daughter asking her to come immediately to the hospital in Victoria. Her daughter and her granddaughter were travelling back from a trip to the mainland, via Victoria, and though Arlene did not know why she was needed so urgently, she sensed the seriousness of the situation instantly.
That same evening Arlene’s granddaughter, Ruby, was air-lifted to Children’s Hospital in Vancouver with a diagnosis of leukemia.
“She was six years, two months, and two weeks old,” Arlene recalls, remembering feeling numb. That night she wrote in a journal, something she hadn’t done before. “This is something that happens to other people, not us,” she composed, “but it has happened.”
There would be many more nights for Ruby, for Arlene, and for their family. Almost a year at Children’s Hospital and a stem cell transplant would follow.
“YANA played a significant role during that time,” says Arlene. “The YANA apartment on Oak Street had everything that was needed and the financial part was a big help. YANA kept our family together.”
After returning to the Comox Valley, Ruby continued with regular check-ups at Children’s Hospital, first every two weeks and then every few months. In November 2012, after a routine blood test, Ruby was re-admitted to Children’s, the leukemia had returned.
“She was ten years, five months, and twenty-nine days old,” says Arlene. “And we were back at square one,” explains Arlene. “Again, YANA was there. I don’t think there is anything like YANA anywhere else, it seemed sent from heaven that it was available to us, it meant everything.”
Shortly after Ruby finished her second phase of long-term treatment, Arlene made a significant donation to YANA. “I had decided that when I could help, I would. YANA was at the top of my list.” Since then Arlene has been a monthly donor, supporting YANA through Canada Helps, an on-line giving platform for non-profits.
“Arlene’s story reminds us of the close connection many of our donors have to the children and families we support,” says YANA Executive Director, Marcie Dumais. “We are grateful to be part of this circle of giving that ensures we are able to help when it’s needed.”
Arlene shares with relief that her granddaughter is a healthy teenager. “I can’t adequately express what YANA means to me, even after so much time has passed. It will be with me until the day I’m gone.”