This Wednesday marked my fourth last Child Life volunteer shift at the hospital. June 15th, 22nd, and 29th are the days I have left to spend at the hospital I love and have – literally – grown up with.
The Children’s Hospital at the London Health Sciences Centre was my home away from home for 8 whole months back in 2001 and 2002. Even after that, I spent countless days and nights there following treatment…if I spiked a fever, felt some sort of unusual pain, or had to travel there for my weekly, then biweekly, then monthly checkups after treatment.
When I finished treatment on March 18, 2002, I swore I would never return to London as I had spent too much time here (literally) fighting for my life. I wanted to move on from it, and only remember it as a fond memory……
……..fast forward 9 years and where did I decide to go to University? Western. Where is it? London. Heck, I didn’t even look at other schools in any other city.
To say my four years in university were easy would be an enormous understatement. I fought through my own battles and battled with mental health issues through a significant portion of my undergraduate degree. As a result, my marks suffered, and so did my drive and perseverance.
Being accepted to the Child Life program at McMaster University (then a diploma program) had been something I had planned on doing for as long as I could remember … but naturally with my low marks and no hands on child life experience to date, I think I was crazy to think they might actually offer me a spot in their program.
I had been sending applications to the Children’s Hospital to volunteer in Child Life since the end of second year. In fourth year, I managed to snag a position at the hospital in February 2015 – working at the information desk. I made them understand how urgent and necessary it was for me to get a position in Child Life. Come August 2015, a position opened up, and I snagged it. Through meeting people at the hospital, I was able to connect with those who encouraged me to become a Patient and Family Advisor. Add this to my list of roles at the hospital. I now spend my Wednesday mornings volunteering in the Paediatric Family Resource Centre as an Advisor, afternoons in Child Life, and my evening is spent at the Ronald McDonald House…
…all of which will be coming to an end in only a few short weeks.
I have learned and grown so much through all of my positions at the hospital and I am so honoured that I have had the opportunity to be so positively shaped by the people and the institution that saved my life. I will never have a connection with another hospital like I do with mine – that I know for sure. But as I get closer and closer to making my big move to Tampa General Hospital, I know that the connection I make with the people and families there will be just as important, strong, and will push me to grow into an even better person and a great Child Life Specialist.
I have three more shifts left at my hospital, and I am determined to make each one of them one to remember.