Most cancers help for Hamilton dad and mom arrives

Hamilton-area parents who are fighting cancer while raising their families are getting an extra helping hand thanks to the arrival of an agency dedicated to supporting them.

The Nanny Angel Network, which provides child support for parents being treated for cancer and has supported some Hamilton mothers on an ad hoc basis for years from its Toronto offices, has expanded into the city.

The network was officially set up in Hamilton in April, but is continuing to look for volunteers and community partners, said Alyssa Gallant, a certified child life specialist with the organization.

“It’s three different things we are looking for: community partners to refer families to us or looking for families that need the support; it’s looking for volunteers who can give that support; and then, of course, it’s looking for community donors and corporations that can help fund the support for the families in the community.”

Funded in 2009 in Toronto, the network provides free of charge trained nannies to help parents who are going through cancer treatment — a process that can drain a person completely, making regular tasks like caring for children vastly more difficult.

Gallant said the nannies provide fun, therapeutic programs to help children and give mothers a break. She said the programs are also designed to provide children with coping skills as their parent goes through a difficult period.

“We don’t receive any financial assistance from the government, so it’s all donation based. All of our programs are completely free for families,” Gallant said.

The program was founded by cancer survivor and nanny business owner Audrey Guth of Toronto.

Gallant said while Guth was undergoing cancer treatments, she noticed a young mother at the hospital who was also being treated with chemotherapy.

“She had a young child who was using the mom as a jungle gym, kind of climbing all over her. And at one point, the young child, probably two or three, pulled off the mom’s head scarf. And that was kind of mom’s breaking point. She just cried,” Gallant said. “In Audrey’s mind, she thought ‘I can help this mom. I can do something to give this mom a break.’”

In addition to providing nannies, the network also offers online programs for kids, a homework club for children and a virtual cancer support group.

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