It’s every parent’s worst fear, losing a child, but that’s just what Robert Thornhill and his wife Amanda have been dealing with since their 3-year-old daughter Erica was diagnosed with leukaemia last year. They recently learnt that her cancer had returned and was terminal. While their daughter is battling cancer, they are conducting their own battle, with the parking authorities at the hospital where Erica is admitted. Mr. Thornhill has racked up $500 in parking fines during Erica’s treatment at St John’s Hospital, and he’s become so frustrated that he left a note on his windshield, saying “My child is upstairs dying of cancer and all you have to do is write me parking tickets. You must feel some good about yourself”. A photo of the note went viral on Facebook and Twitter, bringing the plight of the family into the public eye.
In many ways, you can understand the actions of the parking officials. A lot of people visit the hospital and you can’t expect the individual wardens to know which cars belong to the parents of terminal children and which belong to drug reps dropping off merchandise. They just see missing permits and slap a ticket on the vehicle. Robert Thornhill’s car was said to have been parked in an area reserved for emergency doctors on call, and if those spots were all misused then the doctors wouldn’t be able to park quickly and get to their patients on time. The family has also been offered parking across the street, at Ronald McDonald House, by Eastern Health CEO Vickie Kaminski.
But, is that addressing the real issue? Shouldn’t the parents of terminally ill children not have to worry about this kind of issue at all? There could be the option of giving the families of long-term patients parking permits so they wouldn’t have to think about it. The free parking that Mr. Thornhill has been offered is on the other side of a large parking lot and he worries that walking through the lot in the rain will cause him to catch an infection that he will then take into Erica’s room. Whether or not that is a legitimate fear, the point is clear – he should not have to be worrying about this. Since Erica’s diagnosis, he and Amanda have only been home for a few hours at a time, along with their baby girl Lauren who was only a few months old when the ordeal began. She has never known a real home and it seems almost certain that she will never see her big sister come home. In this situation, should the parking authorities have some compassion and cancel the debts? What do you think?
Until next time,
Peace, love and vitamin C!