For the many readers who have asked how to make donations to the Andre family, or how you can help, please visit AubrisAngels.ca for more information. Thanks for all the love you’ve poured out on Aubri.
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, shall guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
– Philippians 4:6-7
I have a friend who has a niece named Aubri. I’ve never met her, but lately, I’ve seen a lot of pictures of her, read about her life, and prayed for her family. And a few minutes ago, I read something about her dad that reduced me to tears.
The Bible verse above is written on the wall of Aubri’s Angels, a website created and updated by my friend, Sarah. Aubri has cancer. Aubri is seven years old. Aubri lives in pain. To understand Aubri’s complicated diagnosis, please follow the link and read all about her. What I want you to know today is that it’s seriously life-threatening, extremely rare, and devastatingly complicated for her family, and for the doctors who are treating her.
Here’s a brief synopsis of what has happened to this family.
Aubri was diagnosed with cancer in Ontario, and was being treated there. The costs were covered through OHIP (God Bless OHIP), and her dad Phil’s extended benefits package through his job at the Heinz factory in Leamington. This was clearly a stressful and scary time for the family, but at least, financially, things were reasonably stable.
When Aubri’s diagnosis became much more complicated (an unusual mutation, and essentially battling 2 forms of cancer), the doctors in Ontario suggested Aubri be transferred to Alberta Children’s Hospital in Calgary. That is more than 3000 miles (about 5000 km) away from their home.
Willing to do anything to help their daughter, Aubri’s mom Lisa packed up all 3 of her children and moved to Alberta. Issues with finances and housing arose, all due to rules and restrictions. Because Alberta Health has a 3 month waiting period for new residents, Phil stayed behind in Ontario at his current job in an effort to keep his extended benefits package active to help with the medical costs – an attempt to save the life of his 7 year old daughter.
And this is where my tears began. Today, Phil was told Aubri will be losing those benefits. The reason he learns – Heinz has deemed that because he and Lisa live in separate provinces (and are not divorced), the children do not have access to his benefits.
The children do not have access to his benefits.
The children do not have access to his benefits. Because he isn’t divorced.
Because doctors in his province don’t know how to treat her. Because he wants his daughter to live.
Because Lisa had to move to save the life of their daughter. Because he hasn’t divorced his wife. Because he can’t live with them right now. To save her life.
The children do not have access to his benefits.
Can we just think about that for a moment? Can we get past the part where it just kind of bothers us, or sort of sits poorly with us, and just live in that place where we are actually furious? The place where bureaucracy and red tape are not just annoyances, and hoops to jump through, but are actually devastatingly unfair practices that can mean the difference between life and death? The difference between access to medicine that just keeps us alive, and access to medicine that heals us? The difference between allowing a parent to care for a child, and forcing a parent to resign from their job, give up their benefits, take a chance on debt and foreclosure to maybe land another job in a devastated economy that might be stable enough to provide a sick child with health care?
Deep breath. That was a lot of words.
I don’t know Aubri, or Phil and Lisa, or their other gorgeous kids. But I know we are all just one diagnosis away from being this family. It could be you. Or you. Or me. What do you do when your bank account tells you you can pay for the medicine for 2 more months? Do you rely on Philippians 4:6-7? I struggle with anxiousness daily! I worry about tomorrow when I’m living in today all the time.
Right now, I’m thinking about Lisa, and how she feels, 3000 miles from friends and family. 3000 miles from her husband, and how Phil feels, having just resigned from his job, with no wife to hold his hand or children there to make him smile. I am sure they cry. I am sure they lay down at night and sob into their pillows. Then put on brave faces in the morning, for their kids, and for each other.
I’m thinking about Aubri, with 6 different types of chemotherapy racing through her body, layered with pain meds, anti-nausea meds, and the crippling side effects of each of these.
I’m also wondering what can make this better? Is there anything that can spur hope in desperate situations? What can burrow deep into the souls of Lisa and Phil today? What can take a darkness like they are in and fill it with light?
I think we can.
We can speak truth to them. We can speak love to them. We can remind them that we are sad with them.
Leave your words of love for Phil and Lisa in the comments below, and I’ll be sure they get to read them all.
We can speak up! We can speak out! We can remind them that we are angry with them!
Click on this link. Copy and paste the following text into the form and send it to Heinz to communicate your frustration in a respectful way.
H.J. Heinz Company, I am saddened and frustrated to hear about the termination of benefits from the wife and children of Phil Andre, who worked at your factory in Leamington, Ontario. Phil’s daughter Aubri is battling cancer at Alberta Children’s Hospital, where Ontario doctors have deemed her cancer be best treated. Lisa, Aubri, Jaxon & Averi Andre’s benefits were revoked because they do not currently live at Phil’s address, as they are with Aubri in Alberta. I view this decision by your company to be an abuse of the rules and regulations that govern your company’s benefits policies, and ask that you consider changing this rule. I believe this decision on your part shows that you place finances above the life of a seven-year-old girl. I urge you to create more ethical and compassionate business practices, and believe that the world would be a better place if we all treated others the way we would want to be treated. While Phil Andre’s situation cannot be rectified since he is no longer an employee of Heinz, I sincerely hope that your company will make adjustments to this policy before another family suffers the same fate. Please notify me of your decision in regards to changing this policy.
We can give. Donate. Help. We can provide clothes and shelter and transportation for them.
Click here and send a message to Sarah and she can provide you with what the Andre’s need at this time, and how to get it to them.
And we can pray. We can pray right now. We can pray for Aubri, for her doctors, for healing, and restoration to her body. We can pray for a job for Phil, and for a break from the stress of secondary issues, so they can focus on Aubri. Lisa and Phil need prayers of comfort. More than anything else, Phil and Lisa need people to remind them of Philippians 4:6-7. Be anxious in nothing.
Phil and Lisa, I pray that your hearts are comforted, and that you know how many people care for you and your children. All my love to you. xo