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Relax & Colour

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Colouring books have been a favourite childhood activity for generations. Books often feature children’s favourite characters from television, movies, or books, as well as animals and other cute subjects. NAN’s Nanny Angels often use colouring books while working with children who are coping with a parent’s cancer. It is often during these quiet moments that a child will open up and feel safe to ask questions they are afraid to ask anyone else. Happily, Nanny Angels are specially trained to answer the difficult questions children have about their parent’s illness.

More recently, there has also been a huge trend towards colouring books for adults. The craze began in 2013 when Scottish illustrator Johanna Basford was asked by a British publishing house to create a colouring book for children based off her designs. Instead, she proposed a colouring book for adults, and Secret Garden soon became an international bestseller, followed by Enchanted Forest and Lost Ocean.

For children, colouring books are a great way to occupy their time. They also provide a number of developmental benefits, from fine motor skills to eye tracking and focusing. “When a child colours in set spaces… she must coordinate a complex set of skills,” wrote homeschool teacher Marilisa Sachteleben. However, some are less enthusiastic about children’s colouring books.

New York-based art therapist Nadia Jenefsky explained in an interview with Quartz that children are so creative that colouring books often hamper them, forcing them to conform to pre-set designs rather than stretching their innate creativity. “I don’t buy colouring books for my kids,” Jean Van’t Hul writes on her website, The Artful Parent. “I’d rather have them draw their own art than color in someone else’s.”

Whether you agree or disagree on the benefits of colouring books for children, the recent trend in adult colouring books has turned colouring into an activity that parents and children can both enjoy. Sitting down and colouring with your child is something that doesn’t take a lot of energy – perfect for a parent undergoing draining and extensive cancer treatments – and can be taken with you wherever you go. Besides being an excellent low-energy activity to do with your child, there are additional benefits for colouring for parents who are going through the immense stress of cancer treatments.

Though the American Art Therapy Association has cautioned that there is a difference between art therapy and art that is therapeutic, adult colouring books can be very relaxing for adults, and the organization has supported their use for pleasure and self-care. “People with a lot of anxiety respond really well to colouring books,” art therapist Jenefsky explained, “There are some choices involved – in terms of choosing what colours you’re gong to use and how you’re blending your colours – but there’s also a lot of structure.”

From the beautiful and delicate designs of Millie Marotta’s Animal Kingdom to the cheeky Color Me Swoon, with its images of Hollywood stars, the adult colouring book trend has produced a huge variety of colouring books. As an activity to do with your children when you don’t have much energy left or simply as a way to relax and unwind after treatment, adult colouring books are perfect for parents undergoing cancer treatments.

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Text: Jensine Jones
Sources: CBC Quartz The Artful Parent hubpages

Celebrate with ECHOage

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In 2008 ECHOage was created by two moms who wanted to introduce their children to the idea of giving back to the community through charitable donations. Their goal was to make giving to charity a fun and exciting activity for children while also making the lives of parents easier. ECHOage’s innovative structure splits funds raised through a party between a charity and the party’s host. This allows the child to choose their own gift, as well as giving them the experience of picking a charity to support.

“When you are blessed, it is important for the kids to learn what it means to give,” said Jordy, a mother whose daughter recently celebrated her birthday through an ECHOage party. Giving through ECHOage is a yearly tradition in their household, with the children picking out a different charity every year. Jordy explained that her family believes that when you are in a position of privilege, it is essential to teach your children the importance of giving to those who are less fortunate.

Jordy’s daughter, Ella, was the one to choose the Nanny Angel Network for her birthday. Every year her and her mom sit down and go through the list of charities on the ECHOage website, discussing the ones that catch Ella’s eye. Jordy was already familiar with NAN when it caught Ella’s attention, and she was able to explain to Ella the services the Nanny Angel Network provides to mothers with cancer and their children. Ella, who has her own nanny that she adores, found NAN’s mission very relatable, and told her mother that she would like NAN to be the charity to benefit from her birthday this year.

Jordy emphasized the importance of the lessons that are taught to children through ECHOage parties. “It’s not even really a choice in our household,” she said. She believes it is important for her daughter to learn that you don’t need a million presents, that you can still get gifts while also giving back to someone else.

The lessons taught to children through giving to charity are ones that stay with them throughout their lives. By hosting a party through ECHOage, children learn to think about what life is like for other people and the ease with which they can impact the world around them in a positive way. The Nanny Angel Network, which provides childcare to children who are going through some of the hardest times of their lives, is an excellent choice for children looking to help other children. Giving to NAN through ECHOage allows Canadian children to have a direct impact upon their community.

Community support is key to NAN’s success, and we are always so excited when someone chooses to support us in providing more mothers with cancer the support they need during this challenging time. For every dollar that is donated to NAN, we are able to provide two dollars of specialized, in-home relief childcare to mothers with cancer.

Please consider hosting an ECHOage party and selecting the Nanny Angel Network as your charity of choice. Simply go to echoage.com to register, create an event invitation, and choose NAN as your charity. If you have any questions, or would be interested in raising money for NAN in a different way, please contact us at admin@nannyangelnetwork.com or by phone at 416-730-0025 x0.

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A Mom’s Story: Heather

“I just feel like I’ve lost myself. I have nothing left that used to be me.  I can’t even walk anymore.  I just want my life back.”

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Heather had thought nothing of the tissue samples that were taken during her breast reduction surgery in December 2014.  But within a few weeks of her surgery, she got a call she’d never expected: she had breast cancer.  Her whole world was suddenly turned upside down.  Heather went from being a full-time worker and mother of 2 boys, Nathan and Jesse, to a full-time patient undergoing surgery and chemotherapy.

A double mastectomy left her unable to lift her hands and made everyday tasks difficult.  For months, Heather struggled through the recovery process and the start of an aggressive chemotherapy regimen without help.  Each day, she still got out of bed at 6:30am to wake up her 8 year old son Nathan for school.  Some days, she was so nauseous after getting up that she’d have to ask her older son Jesse to get Nathan out of bed.  But nothing was going to stop her from making sure that Nathan was properly cared for and supported.

One day at the hospital in March 2015, Heather came across a pamphlet for the Nanny Angel Network (NAN).  After being encouraged by a friend to contact the agency, Heather had two Nanny Angels looking after Nathan.

“The two Nanny Angels that I have are amazing.  They really are.  They’re really good.  And they’ll think ahead.  They’ll plan something for the next time.  Or they’ll bring something that they want to do.  So they’ve been really good.”  One of Nathan’s Nanny Angels found out that he wants to be a scientist when he grows up – so what better way to spend their time together than by doing science experiments?  Backyard volcanoes, lava lamps and rock collections soon ensued and Nathan couldn’t have had more fun doing it.  Nathan’s other Nanny Angel discovered different things he loved to do, like Lego, battleship and treasure hunts in the park.

Having the Nanny Angels take care of Nathan was a great source of relief for Heather.  “Before NAN came I was worried trying to find something for Nathan to do or go and trying to make arrangements for him when I’m really not well and not feeling up to it but still stressing over what was going to happen with him. When I had the Nanny Angels, they knew when to come and they would just come when I asked them and I didn’t have to stress. I didn’t have to worry so much. I knew Nathan would be okay and he’d be out playing and wouldn’t be watching me receive chemotherapy treatment.”  During the Nanny Angels visits, Heather is able to do the one thing she needs most: rest. Sometimes, that meant retreating to her bedroom to lie down.  Other times, when she was too weak, she would stay downstairs on the couch and quietly watch Nathan and the Nanny Angel playing together.

Nanny Angel Network’s services have been even more vital to Heather given her level of family support.  “My first chemo treatment, my sister was supposed to take me and the day before she canceled and said “I can’t do it.”  So I had to scramble to find a ride to the hospital and back.  And then that day I wasn’t feeling good, so I called my mom to see if she could bring McDonald’s over for Nathan because… I was just so sick and didn’t have time to make dinner.  She came in, brought him McDonald’s, looked at me and she wouldn’t stay. I asked her to stay to help me but she just said “I can’t” and left. They can’t deal with what’s happened to me. They can’t look at me.”

Throughout all of these disappointments, obstacles and challenges, one thing has kept Heather going: Nathan. “If I didn’t have him, I would be totally different. I think I probably would be crying, laying there doing nothing. But he doesn’t give me the opportunity.”  Nathan’s joyful and resilient spirit has brought humour into a difficult situation. With Heather’s hair starting to come back, she decided to buy a wig and wear it to pick him up from school one day. Noticing the wig, Nathan was quick to say, “Oh, Mommy you look really good.” Which was soon followed by “Can I pull it off?” Heather was simultaneously mortified and amused.

Heather’s battle with cancer is not over. But she is continuing to look for joy in her everyday life. “I say this to people, that, you may not understand, it’s this horrible thing we’re going through, but I’ve been lucky in some ways. We’ve had a lot of nice things happen that wouldn’t have happened. Like the nannies – we wouldn’t have met them. And Nathan enjoys them. He really does.”

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Text and Photos: Nanny Angel Network

Angels & Heroes

After a week of the Nanny Angel Network team anxiously checking the weather reports and peering nervously up at the sky, Friday morning dawned bright and clear, and we collectively breathed a sigh of relief. Following a morning of checking and double checking that everything was ready for that evening, the NAN team headed out for our offices to the gorgeous Palais Royale on the lakefront. The perfectly sunny day set the lake alight, and the air was filled with the sounds of pedestrians out taking advantage of the beautiful day. In front of the doors was a stretch of brilliant pink carpet that drew the eye to the first sign of the event’s 60’s theme: an adorable retro Mercedes-Benz.

SON_4818As guests arrived, they were greeted by a crowd of paparazzi calling out in excitement. Guests grinned in delight as they posed for a souvenir photo. Doormen dressed in period garb ushered VIP guests to the back of the building, where the deck beside the lake awaited them. In the bright sunlight, and accompanied by the wonderful voice of Canadian singer/songwriter Kenny Munshaw, guests mingled and sipped on cocktails. Among them were adorably dressed retro cigarette girls selling angel wing necklaces and raffle tickets.

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Guests moved inside for dinner, reluctant to leave the sunshine behind. However, the inside of the venue was as perfect as the exterior, and everyone had soon happily found their seats. The evening’s emcee, Stefano DiMatteo introduced the guests to the Nanny Angel Network’s founder, Audrey Guth. She focused on the story of one of the evening’s attendees, Pawan Sharma, whose late wife Priyanka and her children had been the recipient of NAN’s services prior to her death. His two young daughters have continued to receive visits from Nanny Angels throughout the past year as they grieved the loss of their mother, and as their father struggled with the loss of his wife. Audrey spoke of how Priyanka inspired her. Tears filled her voice, and it was easy to spot others in the audience wiping at their eyes. The story of Pawan and his family is just one among many that NAN has helped in the GTA, something demonstrated by what Audrey next introduced, the 2016 NAN Impact Video.

After this video, you would have been hard pressed to find a dry eye in the crowd. Audrey took the stage again, thanking our title sponsors, Jeff and Diana Kerbel, longtime supporters of NAN whose impact upon mothers with cancer in the GTA is truly immeasurable. She thanked Paul Bailey of Bazil Developments, our Entertainment Sponsor, Barbara Weinberg of MLSE for all her hard work and passion for NAN, David and Jenni Belford of Surplus Freigh who, as a major sponsor, supplied the jet for Michael Feinstein et al. along with being an event sponsor. She also thanked OMDREB for their ongoing support of NAN, and all of our corporate sponsors who made the evening possible. She emphasized what an incredible impact donations to the Nanny Angel Network have – for every dollar that you donate to NAN, we are able to provide two dollars of specialized, in-home relief childcare to mothers with cancer.

Adam Moskowitz provided auctioneer services for the evening. The fast talking Adam got the crowd so excited they were quickly breaking the rules of a live auction, guests shouting out to draw attention to their bids. The prizes on offer were incredible thanks to the generosity of those who donated them, and the auction was a resounding success, raising over $35,000. One prize, a dinner for ten, was so successful that the donor offered a second one, which went for the same price of $10,000 each! After the excitement of the auction, the time had finally arrived for the evening’s headliner, and Michael Feinstein took the stage.

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The two-time Emmy and five-time Grammy nominated artist was accompanied by a nineteen piece Swing band, and captured the audience’s hearts with his beautiful renditions of Frank Sinatra. Clips from Michael’s performance can be found on the Nanny Angel Network Instagram page, as well as other behind the scenes images from the night.

Following Michael’s wonderful performance, the raffle was held to great excitement from the guests. Many lucky winners took home incredible prizes, including a private film screening of a theatrical release complete with popcorn and drinks for 40 guests from Warner Bros. Canada, and a trip to Nicaragua at a luxury resort.

Following remarks from co-chairs Joyce Frustaglio and Kendryn Hutt, the evening concluded. Guests were given a copy of the first edition of NAN’s Halo magazine as they headed out into the night, full of warmth and the joy of having helped support an amazing cause.

For more photographs from this wonderful evening, be sure to check out our image gallery.

To help support the Nanny Angel Network, please visit our donation page.

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Text: Jensine Jones      Photos: Nikki Leigh McKean

A Mom’s Story: Cheryl

“I didn’t jump right away to calling it “cancer”. Initially, I talked [to my kids] about having a blood disorder, and that might have been more for me than them, I wasn’t quite ready to use the cancer word myself.”

Multiple myeloma: those are the words Cheryl, mother of three, did not want her children to associate with the idea of mom. After seeing her family doctor for fatigue and excruciating back pain that nearly lead to tears with movement, Cheryl was faced with a diagnosis that could change her and her family’s life significantly.

“I can do most things. But at the pace of 60% of what a normal person could do. Basically I operate like a 70-year-old. If you wanted to picture it, look at my mom, and I have about the get-up-and-go that she has.”

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Multiple myeloma is a blood cancer that is very difficult to treat, and requiring different combinations of medications to manage. Because of this, Cheryl requires regular doctor appointments, and as a result of her many medications, has been in and out of hospitals for complications.

“I’m in constant treatment. I’ll do one thing until that stops working, and then they’ll switch me to something else, till they run out of things to switch me to. The treatment I’m on now results me in having very low immunity to anything […] over the holidays, I was in hospital for shingles, meningitis, and an intestinal infection. Last march, I was in hospital for a week with pneumonia, and a blood infection. I don’t just get a cold, I get in terrible situations. [It’s] eye opening to me in terms of just how unreliable my body has become. That’s a bitter pill to swallow.”

With three children, ages 12, 9, 5, Cheryl and her husband were struggling to balance everything from the medical appointments, working, and taking care of the family, all on their own.

“My daughter was going to a program 2 days a week, which was the only way during the initial stages of me getting really sick that I could even manage, and I was just trying to fit all my appointments on those 2 days. The other 3 days, I was basically lying around feeling crappy and useless.”

Living a distance away from family, and feeling the increasing burden of asking for help from friends, Cheryl was able to turn to the Nanny Angel Network (NAN) for support. NAN understands how vulnerable women can feel when asking for help, and strives to ensure that all mothers feel welcome.

“[It’s] like a sense of not being entirely alone – we don’t have a lot of family support that’s available on a regular basis, so that made it very nice, to feel like there was someone you could call. And also, initially, I was very concerned about finances, and the fact that this was available, free of charge, was a huge benefit. Having someone routinely is really beneficial because then you have this ray of hope […] that one day you’re going to have a couple of hours to go get groceries or something without dragging your kids with you.”

Once Nanny Angels were able to step in, not only was Cheryl able to find more time to focus on her health, but she was also able to spend more quality time with her family.

“During the summer, [NAN visits] coordinated frequently with the day that my 12-year-old had his baseball games, so I was able to actually go see some of his baseball games, because if I go to a game with the other two kids, then there’s no actually watching the game happening. So I was able to watch some of his games which was nice for both of us.”

Cheryl shared how isolated she felt living with a chronic illness. With a little over two years since her diagnosis, Cheryl is still finding that small gestures of kindness can go a long way.

“You know what, it gets a little old. It gets a little old in the second year. People want to think you’re just fine. And we just get so used to this kind of new normal. But last week we had someone out of the blue show up with a great plate of lasagna, and I was really kind of shocked at just how much I appreciated that. Having access to NAN is like that. Sure, we are managing on our own, but when someone cares enough to give of themselves just to make my life a little easier and add enjoyment to the lives of my kids, it is very special. It’s more than a few hours to catch up on some errands, or rest, or even spend one-on-one time with one of my kids. It’s a reminder that there is good in this world and that even if I can’t be there for my children there are others who will be.”

Cheryl is just one of many moms who NAN helps support through their cancer treatment.

This Mother’s Day, please consider supporting NAN in honour of a mother in your life, and help us change the lives of mothers living with cancer.

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Text & Photos: Nanny Angel Network

Blogging with Cancer

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Blogging is becoming a growing hobby or past-time of many people, regardless of age, interests, and experiences. With studies showing that there are positive social effects to blogging, and in blogging about an illness specifically, the team at the Nanny Angel Network was curious about the experience of mothers who blog during their cancer treatment. Is there a community? Does it provide mothers with cancer another form of social support? With these questions in mind, NAN talked to Renee Kaiman, a blogger at My So-Called Mommy Life. Renee is a blogger, a mother, and a cancer survivor, and has benefited from the Nanny Angel Network over the past year.

Renee began blogging long before she received her diagnosis of breast cancer. In fact, she first began blogging to share her experiences as a mother. “I started blogging when my daughter was 9 months old,” Renee told NAN, explaining that all the research that she did while pregnant led to her becoming the person that her friends turned to with their questions. “A few people suggested I start a blog,” Renee said, adding “I’m so glad I did!” After her cancer diagnosis, Renee made the conscious decision not to change the way she blogged because of the cancer. “My blogging changed in that my blog now includes posts about my treatment as well as life with and after cancer,” she explained, but at the same time, she made an effort to give her readers “the same blog that I did before I was diagnosed.”

Making the decision to disclose her diagnosis to her audience wasn’t an easy one for Renee. “I wasn’t quite sure how I would disclose my diagnosis to anyone,” Renee said. “My closest family and friends knew but I sat on how I would tell everyone else for a while.” Eventually, she made the decision to share her diagnosis on her blog in the hopes that everyone she knew would read it. “I wanted my news to come from me. I didn’t want it to be a broken telephone type situation or one that included whispers,” Renee explained. “I think it also was the right thing to do because I was young, only 33, and pretty much the first person in my social circles to receive this diagnosis.” On the 1st of April, 2015, while sitting in the waiting room for her first round of chemotherapy, a post called ‘When life hands you cancer’ went live on Renee’s blog.

Renee had another reason for wanting to share her diagnosis with her blogging audience. “I decided to share my experience to show that although cancer is scary it can happen to anyone,” Renee said, “I’ve shared a lot of personal experiences about cancer, and I have been contacted by many other young mothers with breast cancer who have read my blog and could relate to my words.” When she was first diagnosed, Renee attempted to find other young woman bloggers with cancer diagnoses, but didn’t have much luck. “I hope that other young woman will find the solace that I was looking for,” Renee said, emphasizing how much it means to her when woman with cancer reading her blog do reach out to her. “It reminds me that what I’m doing is helpful to others moms,” she said.

“Even though I was surrounded by so many supportive people, you don’t often sit down and discuss your fears. My blog has given me an outlet to share my deepest feelings with those who know me and those who don’t.”

Renee believes that her blog and Instagram both played significant roles in changing her experience of cancer. “The support I have received has been amazing and so many fellow bloggers have been so incredibly supportive of me,” Renee stated. “It gave me an outlet to share how I felt. Whether it was sharing my initial diagnosis, to the night before my double mastectomy, I was able to share and let people know how I was feeling,” Renee said, adding that it made her feel supported through the most difficult parts of her cancer treatment. “I always received amazing feedback which let me know I was doing the right thing.”

There was a final reason for Renee to continue blogging through her cancer treatment, and her choice to openly discuss her cancer treatment on her blog. “Part of me also blogged during my treatment so that if anything should ever happen to me…  my kids [would] know from my words how I really felt during this whole thing,” Renee said. Overall, she hopes the message people get from her blog is a positive one. “I’m a mom like most of my readers who got a shitty diagnosis,” Renee explains. “Instead of letting it ruin my life, I decided to face it head on and not let it dictate my life. Cancer will always be a part of who I am now, but it isn’t all that I am.”

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Renee Kaiman has been blogging at My So-Called Mommy Life since 2012. The 35-year-old mother of two is a breast cancer survivor, and a recent graduate from NAN’s Nanny Angels program. You can find her online at her blog, twitter, and Instagram.

Text: Jensine Jones      Photos: Nanny Angel Network
Sources: Journal of Health CommunicationCommunication ResearchHealth Blogging

Volunteering in Retirement

Choosing to volunteer your time in retirement comes with a host of benefits. From providing a transition from working life to retired life, to giving you a sense of purpose, to connecting you to a network of other volunteers, there are many ways in which volunteering as a retiree can improve your life. There are even health benefits – former director of the Centre on Aging at the University of Victoria, Neena Chappell, reports that retirees who volunteer, “especially if it involves helping others, are happier and healthier in their later years.”

Dianne Levy is a retired teacher who has been volunteering with the Nanny Angel Network since early 2015. She says that she decided to begin volunteering because she “wanted to help others and give back to the community.” When asked why she choose NAN over other organizations, Dianne replied that she picked NAN because she could see the need for the Nanny Angel Network in the community, and was impressed by Audrey, the founder of the organization. She added that Angel’s make an incredible difference in the lives of families going through cancer treatment and recovery.

Dianne has been volunteering almost as long as she has been retired, giving her a firm grasp on what volunteering in retirement is like. “If you have the time and you want to give back and enjoy the feeling of giving, do it,” Dianne said when asked what she would say to someone who is about to retire and is thinking about volunteering. “There is no better feeling than to be needed and appreciated.” Dianne also emphasized that choosing an organization that is a good fit for you is important when deciding whether or not to volunteer in retirement. “To be an Angel you have to be a certain type of individual,” she said. “Not everyone I know would be suited to this type of volunteer position.” Of course, the Nanny Angel Network has plenty of volunteer positions beyond Nanny Angels, including providing help in the office as well as roles around fundraising.

We also asked Dianne if she had a favourite story from her time volunteering with NAN that she’d like to share, and she was happy to tell us all about the kids she works with.

One story makes me laugh. We go to the park when the weather is conducive for playing outdoors. The two children I work with are 6 and 3. We play pretend. In their eyes, I am a kid, not a grandmother. They asked me to climb the monkey bars.  I am a Princess, a Queen, a fireman, and a witch. Their imaginations are endless. Little are they aware that my joints are not what they used to be. In their minds, they think I am a youngster with unlimited energy and dexterity. It makes me laugh because in a few years, I will be an old lady to them, but now, I am just a kid.

Dianne told NAN that volunteering has really taught her a lot, including patience and understanding. “It has brought out my imagination. Volunteering has channeled the child in me. I have become a better person. I have learned to be grateful and to cherish ALL moments.” When asked if she had any last comments, Dianne emphasized again how important she sees the work that NAN does. “I think the Nanny Angel Network is truly amazing,” she says, adding, “I just wish more people were aware of this agency because there is such a great need for this service.”

The Nanny Angel Network is always looking for new Nanny Angels to join our team of dedicated volunteers! To become a Nanny Angel, you must have one year of recent professional childcare experience, which can include being a professional nanny, nursing, teaching, social work, or a student currently enrolled in programs for careers involving childcare. You must also be a legal resident of Canada, physically and mentally fit to provide unsupervised care for children, a minimum of 18 years of age, have a clear vulnerable sector police check (which can be arranged through NAN)), current CPR and First Aid training (also can be arranged through NAN), and two references related to childcare experience. The Nanny Angel Network also provides specialized training for all of our volunteers, which includes a seminar on Grief and Loss with Andrea Warnick.

If you’d like to become a Nanny Angel with NAN, fill out our online application!

Dianne Levy

Dianne Levy photographed by Omar Duragos


Text: Jensine Jones       Sources: theglobeandmail.com

Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon

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Are you looking to reach a personal fitness goal in 2016? Or perhaps looking for a family-friendly race to get your kids active and giving back?

NAN is excited to announce that it is one of the charities that you can fundraise for as a participant of the Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon! On October 16, tens of thousands of people will take to Toronto’s streets to participate in the annual 5k, half marathon, and full marathon races.

For the first time ever, NAN will be putting together a team of runners, with fundraising dollars going directly to supporting our Nanny Angels and mothers through our programming.

“We are so excited to launch this new opportunity. The run is a fun and family-friendly way to get involved and support the tremendous efforts of our Nanny Angel volunteers,” says NAN Founder, Audrey Guth. While this is a new program for NAN, it is our goal to raise $7,000 with the help of our supporters.

No matter your age, or if you like to run or walk, all are welcome to join us! As a member of our team, you will benefit from a special edition NAN t-shirt, fundraising support and assistance, as well as a special invitation to a pre-race dinner where you will meet our Founder and hear from the people who can speak to the benefit of your support – our moms.

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Text: Rebecca Babcock            Photos: Nanny Angel Network

In Sickness

In Sickness

Supporting someone you love when they’ve been diagnosed with cancer is difficult. Worrying about saying the wrong thing, their emotional state, and what will happen to your relationship all factor into your interactions with them from the moment they tell you about their diagnosis. It is inevitable that you may say or do something that negatively impacts your loved one with cancer. Depending on their personality and your relationship, they may not tell you when you do something wrong.

Luckily, other cancer patients don’t have that problem! There is a wealth of online articles discussing the do’s and don’ts of interacting with your loved one who is sick, which can be overwhelming. However, there are several points that come up again and again when discussing how best to be there for your loved one with cancer. We have collected the most essential pieces together in this list of how to best be there for your loved one:

Do: take your cues from them. If they don’t want to talk about it, don’t push them into a conversation they aren’t prepared for or don’t want to have. Asking someone to share details about their treatment and what is happening to their body is intensely personal.

Don’t: share your cancer story. Telling someone who has been diagnosed with cancer about how your mother-in-law died of cancer is not helpful… and might send the wrong message about what you think their chances of survival are.

Do: let them know you care, that you will be there for them, and that you will support them in whatever capacity they need… even if that doesn’t match what you think they need.

Don’t: ask how they are. People with cancer are constantly inundated with questions about their health, their disease, their state of mind… and it is exhausting. Let them know that you’re there for them if they want to talk, but don’t push.

Do: include them in normal social events, but also be understanding if they have to cancel or decline.

Don’t: try to be empathetic by saying you understand how they feel. Sympathize, but don’t compare your experiences and feelings to theirs if you have never had cancer. Phrases such as “I can’t imagine how you feel” are far more meaningful, and real, than “I know exactly how you feel”.

Do: listen without adding your own input. This can be challenging, but can also be so meaningful to someone who is sick.

Don’t: recommend a miracle cure you found on the internet. Just… don’t.

Do: avoid platitudes such as “everything happens for a reason” and “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” that don’t mean much… and that they’re constantly hearing from everyone else in their life.

Don’t: tell them to stay positive, or any other message that tells the cancer patient to regulate their outward displays of their emotions. “Stay positive”, “you’re so strong”, and “you’re so brave” all communicate to cancer patients that they can’t reveal their real moods to you without judgement, that they can’t display any weakness, and that they are at fault for their own illness because they weren’t upbeat enough.

Do: respect their decisions when it comes to their treatment and their health.

All of this advice boils down to one simple principle: this is not about you, but the person with cancer. This idea is encapsulated by the Ring Theory, developed by Susan Silk, a clinical psychologist, when she had breast cancer. It uses rings in a circle to designate proximity to a trauma, with the person experiencing the trauma (in this case, cancer) in the very centre. The person in the centre ring can say whatever they want about their trauma. So can everyone else – but only to people in the larger rings. When talking to someone in a smaller ring than yours, the goal is to help, to listen and provide comfort and support.

Ultimately, this is the most important thing you can do for someone with cancer. Mistakes in language, phrasing, and terminology are inevitable and understandable, and very much forgiveable. Being mindful of the impact your words can have, listening carefully to what your loved one is saying, and being there for them throughout their treatment is the most important thing you can do for your loved one with cancer.

In Sickness2


Sources: cancer.org | cancer.ca | caring.com | abc.net.au | latimes.com
Text: Jensine Jones            Photos: emilymcdowell.com

A New Way To Give

There are a growing number of ways to support your favourite causes, from donating at point of sale to fundraising through events. With some organizations, you can even donate your used vehicle! The Nanny Angel Network has just added another way for you to support them, thanks to their partners at Shoppers Drug Mart. Now, by using your Shoppers Drug Mart Optimum Card, you can help NAN get the supplies and resources they need for programming simply by donating your points!

A large-format Shoppers Drug Mart store: the Company's 1000th store opened in 2007 in Toronto. (CNW Group/Shoppers Drug Mart Corporation)

I talked to NAN’s Stewardship Officer, Rebecca Babcock, about this new program, and why NAN has chosen to partner with Shoppers Drug Mart for this new and different way of giving. In our conversation, Rebecca was quick to emphasize how important donations are to the continued operation of the Nanny Angel Network, stating that “donations are the lifeblood of NAN. They are important to running our programs and necessary to bring our Nanny Angels to families across the GTA.” Without the help of donations, it would be impossible for NAN to provide their free, specialized in-home relief childcare to mothers’ with cancer in Toronto and throughout the GTA.

Rebecca delved into what benefits there are for donors in giving their Optimum Points as compared to other methods, stating “the Optimum Points program is an awesome opportunity for the person who can’t give financially right now to contribute to a cause they are passionate about.” She emphasized, however, that this program isn’t just for people who can’t afford to give through traditional methods. “For the donor looking to go above and beyond in their contributions, this is a great way to have an impact,” she said, adding that “sharing your rewards allows us to purchase necessary items and gift cards.”

This new program doesn’t just have benefits for NAN’s supporters. “Shoppers Drug Mart is a proud partner of the Nanny Angel Network, and we are thrilled to have this program as part of our partnership,” Rebecca said. She went on to explain why charities are now choosing to utilize new and non-traditional giving methods. Rebecca commented that “giving people more ways to give allows us to engage more people and expand our impact.” When asked what NAN hopes to achieve by implementing this program, Rebecca focused on the ways it allows NAN to engage new people. “As technology grows and our interactions change, we want to provide as many opportunities as possible for supporters to have an impact.”

The Shoppers Drug Mart Optimum Points program in particular is an easy avenue to engage supporters, as rewards programs are something that most people are already familiar with. “Being able to gift those rewards to causes we care about is a great way to turn your every day actions into ongoing philanthropy,” Rebecca explained, adding that they hope this program will help with the cost of supplies for their Nanny Angels. Nanny Angels go out to client’s homes with their famous Green Bag stocked full of toys and supplies for the children, and they can always use more, which is where the Optimum Points will come in. “This program will help us with the cost of supplies, especially through gift cards, toys, and other supplies,” Rebecca concluded.

Interested in donating your Shoppers Drug Mart Optimum Points? It’s easy! Simply log into your Optimum Account on www.shoppersdrugmart.ca and click the Donate/Transfer Points tab. From there, simply scroll down the list of charitable partners until you find NAN. Enter the amount and just like that, your points will be transferred to their card to help with purchases to support their programming!


Text: Jensine Jones           Photo: CNW Group/Shoppers Drug Mart Corporation