'Nanny Angels' help Toronto-area mothers with cancer
A network of volunteers is providing relief for Toronto-area women who are raising young children while battling cancer.
The volunteers call themselves Nanny Angels, and they offer their services for free to mothers who are undergoing cancer treatment.
“We know that women will miss or cancel appointments for chemo or radiation because they don’t have someone at home to take care of their children,” Nanny Angel Network founder Audrey Guth told CTV News.
A former cancer patient herself, Guth is trying to change that.
In the past four years, the Nanny Angel Network has helped over 400 families in the Greater Toronto Area. In 2013 alone, it sent 32 trained volunteers to 94 different families, providing almost 1,800 hours of care.
Jane Evans is one of the mothers who use the service. When she found out about her diagnosis, she immediately thought of her daughter, Victoria.
“Your whole world stops,” Evans told CTV News. “The first thing you worry about is your child.”
Now, Nanny Angels have relieved some of that worry. Verna Ross, a volunteer with the program, comes once a week to spend time with Victoria.
“It really is a lot of fun and it is very rewarding,” Ross said. “I certainly enjoy it.”
Many of the Nanny Angels are cancer survivors themselves, looking for a way to give back, Guth said.
Right now, the organization is able to serve about 80 per cent of requests, but still needs more volunteers to serve the remaining 20 per cent of mothers who ask for help.
Any woman who has children under the age of 12 and is undergoing cancer treatment is eligible to apply for a Nanny Angel.
According to the group’s website, 48 per cent of mothers who use the service are single parents, 48 per cent are visible minorities, and 42 per cent have children under the age of three.
There’s a chance that similar organizations will appear outside the Toronto area. After CNN featured Nanny Angels in March, people from across North America have expressed interest in starting similar programs.
“There is nothing out there that really provides the kind of care for children so that she can take care of herself and get better,” Guth said.
For Evans, it’s difficult to express just how grateful she is for her Nanny Angel.
“How do you say thank you to someone who gives up their time and just comes into your life and, you know, just sort of takes over your role?” she said.
With a report from CTV News' medical specialist Avis Favaro and producer Elizabeth St. Philip