We’ve all had times which have brought more life lessons than we wanted to learn. As the primary caregiver for a child diagnosed with a chronic illness, the past five months have been that way for me.

Yet, as I look back, I realize that maybe they were lessons I needed to learn and they’re as aptly summarized as ABC.

A is for advocacy in adversity

I didn’t set out to become my family’s healthcare quarterback, but navigating multiple doctors, hospitals and now a five-person medical team, I’ve had to become an assertive advocate championing the best interests of not only my daughter, English Rose, but our family.

The communication and project management skills I honed during my years in the corporate world have been put to good use in a situation of adversity where my child’s health and well-being are at stake.

B is for belief

“Believe” was my word for the year in 2014, but it’s only in 2016 I’ve come to truly appreciate its powerful nuances.

I have to believe English Rose will make a full recovery because if I don’t, how can I give her the confidence to face continuing treatment?

I’ve also have had to believe the right specialists are out there for her, and to pursue treatment options like a fierce Mama Bear protecting her cub.

Courage and caring, community and CHEO  

English Rose has shown great courage or, as my mom would have put it, grit, in facing the many challenges the past months have brought. I’ve been inspired by her strength, and her courage has bolstered mine at times when worry and lack of sleep have stretched me near breaking point.

Her illness has also shown me the caring in our new Canadian community. We’ve had practical and emotional support from her school and our church, and even when I go into the local grocery store people ask how she’s doing.

Thanks to the team at the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO), English Rose is getting the best medical care possible, and that care extends to our family. We all have access to tools and coping strategies in living with and supporting someone with chronic pain.


The road ahead

Since English Rose is a child, her prognosis is good, although treatment may take up to a year. With the right combination of medication, she’s more like herself and together, our family is forging a new reality in this place we never wanted to visit.

As for my writing? Family relationships are the threads in the stories I weave, and this experience has helped me deepen the emotion in my writing more than any courses could have.

If I’d had a choice, I  wouldn’t have chosen these lessons, but life doesn’t always give us choices. It does, however, give us friends and family, and books and music to help us on our journey.

And when life is dark? For me, there’s always ice cream!



  1. Jean Bull

    As you know, I know just what you’re going through. I think your ABC is a very good way of describing how to cope with the situation, and I hope that together with your medical team and the support of your family and friends, English Rose will soon be well again.

    • Jen Gilroy

      It helps to know you’ve experienced a similar sort of situation, Jean. I often think of the challenges you and your family have faced and draw strength and inspiration from you.

  2. Jennifer Wilck

    Hoping things continue to improve and she’s feeling better soon!

    • Jen Gilroy

      Thanks, Jennifer. I keep reminding myself it’s a slow and steady journey!

  3. Sue Bavin

    Belief is so important, Jen. Your confidence will help English Rose to be strong at this challenging time in her young life. Wishing you both all the best xx

    • Jen Gilroy

      Thanks, as always, for your support, Sue.

  4. Arlene McFarlane

    Well put, Jen. And you are handling things beautifully.

    Your ABC’s are an inspiration to us all!


    • Jen Gilroy

      Thanks so much, Arlene. I really appreciate your kind words and support.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Subscribe to Blog

Want to get posts about my life, family, writing & more? To receive an email notification whenever I publish a new blog post, sign up here.


Want to get exclusive giveaways, subscriber-first book news & more? Sign up for my newsletter here.

Latest from the Blog

Photo by Robin Spencer, Spencer Studio