Heidi Hass Gable knows about challenges.
In 2013, she championed parents as the chair of the District Parent Advisory council at a time when School District 43 was cutting jobs to fend off a $12-million deficit.
Now, not only is she facing down colorectal cancer after a two-year battle with the disease, she recently learned that her son, Cam, 14, has leukemia.
Her friends, supporters and Facebook page readers are helping her get through the ordeal, Hass Gable said, as she worries about her son, her finances and her own health.
“We’ve dealt with this really well,” Hass Gable told The Tri-City News this week.
Still, the former technology consultant admits there are challenges. She hasn’t been able to work for two years, is running out of RRSP funds and will need to take more time off to deal with her own and her son’s illnesses.
Recently, she started a GoFundMe page to solicit donations to help pay the bills; so far, it has raised more than $16,000 towards a $50,000 goal.
“That’s been difficult, learning how to ask for help,” Hass Gable said, “I like to be the person who was helping and doing that kind of thing, and to turn around and say, ‘I don’t know what to do,’ it’s been hard.”
The family, including Cam, her 21-year-old daughter and 18-year-old son, live together in the caretaker’s cottage at Belcarra Regional Park, where Hass Gable opens and shuts the park and washrooms.
She said living in a park is beneficial, as she can enjoy the ocean and trees by walking to the pier when the weather and her energy level cooperate.
Her Facebook community, friends and other supporters have provided Hass Gable with the strength to carry on — a surprisingly positive aspect of social media given its many negatives.
But Hass Gable said it can be a relief to share with others what she’s been going through.
“It gives me a chance to stay in touch with people, it lets people support me, it does make a difference when people comment, touch base and help. It feels good.”
Hass Gable has gone through multiple rounds of chemotherapy and had surgery, but a small spot of cancer stubbornly persists in her lymph nodes, requiring more surgery.
Meanwhile, Cam, who is being homeschooled, is also undergoing chemotherapy and blood transfusions, which brought up his blood cell count, but he’s not feeling great, she said.
He gets his support from his buddies — called Cam’s Crew by BC Children’s Hospital staff, where Cam spent three weeks in treatment — while her other kids are finding their own outlets during this trying time. Hass Gable said her eldest daughter is busy as a volunteer firefighter with the Sasamat Volunteer Fire Department and her 18-year-old is active socially.
Together, everyone is managing, she said, with a little help from their friends.
‘It’s been really inspiring how the community comes together when you ask for help.”
• To help Heidi Hass Gable and her son Cam, you can contribute here.
In 2015, Heidi Hass Gable did a talk on gifted children. Watch the video below.