Recently we heard from Alexa, a university student, who told us how she had once called Kids Help Phone at a time of great need when her parents weren’t available, and how that one call changed her life. Here is her story:
“I think I was around 12 when I called Kids Help Phone. My father had been diagnosed with cancer years earlier, and it had been an ongoing battle since then. He had kidney cancer, stage four, the worst it could be. It was a very emotional time, and our family was told he wasn’t going to make it. My dad went through three or four surgeries and several clinical trials. Because most of his treatments were in the United States, and I had to stay in Canada for school, I didn’t have many people to talk to. My parents were away a lot. Or they would come home from a whole day of driving from a clinic and fall into bed after receiving more bad news….I don’t think they had the strength to comfort me as much as I needed it, and I didn’t have anywhere else to turn, particularly late at night when I thought about it the most.
One night, around midnight, I couldn’t sleep and I was feeling so terribly sad and alone. Suddenly I thought of a logo and phone number I had seen several years earlier for Kids Help Phone at Boston Pizza. The number was easy to remember, and it came right back to me. I was lying in bed, under the covers, and I dialed. A woman answered and we talked for about half an hour. It was so good to talk to somebody and have that release! I cried for the first time in a while. She listened to me, acknowledged that my feelings were real, told me it was important to let myself feel them, and helped me to let go of a huge burden. I didn’t have to give any personal information, which felt good because back then I didn’t want anyone to know I had called. Having that privacy, even as a kid – I was aware of it.
My shoulders felt so much lighter the next day! It had been wonderful to hear this friendly voice, and to speak to someone who was clearly there to talk as long as I needed it.
I think my parents always thought… oh well, we can do it all, we can be there for her. My parents are amazing, but there’s no such thing as Super Mom and Super Dad; there’s always going to be a time when as a kid, you need that extra support. I’m so glad Kids Help Phone was there.
Today I’m happy to say that my dad is fine. He was a medical miracle, and now he’s been in remission since 2007. We’ve been so incredibly lucky!
As for me, I know that call changed my life. I find I’m doing a lot of “helping” work right now – I volunteer as a crisis responder in my university dorm and often have younger students coming to me in the middle of the night, and I also work for my school’s sexual assault centre – and I think I do these things partly as a result of that one phone call. Whenever it’s difficult I think, “I needed help once, and now I am there for somebody else.” I have a feeling my future career path will have something to do with helping others.
It meant so much to me during that really bleak time to speak to such a wonderfully caring counsellor, whoever she was. Today I tell everyone I can about Kids Help Phone.