For the Sidhu family, finding time to be together can be difficult. But on Thursday, Amanda and Rob Sidhu of Mission, along with their three kids, Sean, 13, Brittany, 10, and Kaitlyn, 5, got an exclusive look at the Abbotsford International Airshow.
The family attended Thursday’s practice day of the airshow at the Canuck Place chalet where they had front-row seats to the action.
Canuck Place is a Vancouver-based children’s hospice that provides care for families with children suffering from life-threatening illnesses, and is currently building a hospice location in Abbotsford.
The Sidhus’ daughter Kaitlyn was diagnosed with a rare life-threatening condition called semilobar holopresenchephaly – meaning that in utero, the hemispheres of her brain remained joined in areas where they should have divided – leaving her in need of 24-hour care.
The Sidhus’ have been visiting Canuck Place in Vancouver to receive treatment for Kaitlyn and respite care for the family.
“We became a part of Canuck Place to help with pain and symptom management. They did such a great job… It’s been such a blessing,” said Amanda.
Kaitlyn, who is non-verbal, had unexplained pain and irritability that concerned her family. The doctors at Canuck Place have been able to help manage her symptoms.
Amanda said that since they began going to Canuck Place, Kaitlyn has become healthier, happier and grown.
“We finally have been able to see the real Kaitlyn.”
On top of providing care, Canuck Place provides the Sidhu family with a place to relax as a family.
“We usually go and stay with Kaitlyn… they are able to bring the family together and give (us) that time of rest and relaxation.”
The Sidhu’s “cannot wait” for Canuck Place to open in Abbotsford.
“It’ll change (our lives) tremendously. There will be that resource so much closer to us … having that right at our doorstep will be incredible.”
For now, attending events like the airshow gives the family a chance to spend time together, as well as see other families from Canuck Place with whom they’ve developed relationships. Amanda explained that because Kaitlyn’s health can change quickly, they often lose opportunities for family activities, or have to cancel plans.
“There’s not a lot of times where we get to come out and do something all together like this,” said Amanda.
Rob said that focusing on Kaitlyn’s health can take a toll on the entire family.
“It’s kind of tough on the other kids, they miss a lot of time… We were in and out of the hospital for a year and a half.”
The Sidhus’ watched the variety of demonstrations during the airshow in the Canuck Place chalet, and received special visits from the pilots, including the Snowbirds.
“This is an experience that we would never be able to do any other time,” said Amanda.
Amanda said her son Sean was the most excited to see the planes, while Brittany enjoys spending time with the other kids. For Kaitlyn, it’s a chance to interact with her family and the other families from Canuck Place.
“I think she just enjoys having so many people around.”
Canuck Place in Abbotsford is currently under construction as part of the David Lede Campus of Care on Marshall Road, adjacent to the Abbotsford Regional Hospital.
It will provide a 10-bed, five family suite, 30,000 square foot hospice, which will double the organization’s capacity and provide a more convenient location for Fraser Valley families.