Peachland Elementary was the same this morning as any other – parents dropping off kids in the loop, others walking the little ones in. The sun is shining and there’s that background of kids playing and running around. It’s a normal school day, but it feels heavy. Because there’s a family here who is dealing with some terrible news.
What can you do when you learn your child has cancer?
You can turtle against everything. You can curse it and you can cry and you can be angry and sad. All those things are understandable.
It takes a different kind of person to immediately look for the lesson and embrace the present circumstance – it takes an incredible person to do this when they’ve just learned what their beautiful daughter is facing. Violet Quinn is eight years old. Just last week, she was running around Peachland Elementary with her friends. As I type this, she is at the BC Children’s Hospital. Her parents, Shawna and Matt Quinn, little sister Lucy and the rest of their family have just been thrust into a world no one wants.
And this, is when Peachland steps up. Last night, two of her good friends Tracy Murphy and Dauna Hill got together. Something, they felt, needed to be done. They know Matt and Shawna were a little wary (because they’re good people who don’t want to bother others / impose) – but the reality is, people want to help and a GoFundMe is the best way to do it. And sometimes, your friends just know what you need, even when you don’t:
“I’ve been talking to her for the last couple of days and you know what? They just don’t know how long they’re going to be there,” Tracy says.
“We just want to be able to take the stress off and for them not to have to worry about their mortgage and other things.”
Shawna and Matt both run local businesses – Shawna is a writer and Matt owns Pulse Ultrasonics (they just opened their first location in Westbank). I could list adjectives, but instead I’ll say I’m an energy person, and both of them have the good kind of it – in spades.
“Shawna is forever nominating people in the community for all their unnoticed work. She always thinks about everyone else first,” says Tracy.
This is true. Looking at our last text convo, Shawna was thanking ME for asking her advice about something business-related. “You’re killin’ it,” she concluded.
And business to business, Matt has offered nothing but encouragement – whether it’s a nice comment on my Phoenix insta or during a quick convo we had at school pick-up recently.
My daughter, Edie has been one of Violet’s bffs (best friends forever, for those who don’t know eight year old group chat speak), since preschool. I told her the situation this morning and we talked about what we can do for her friend in the hospital. Edie has this to say about Violet.
“She’s very funny and she’s very kind and nice to me.”
Many, many people agree. In addition to the GoFundMe, more plans are being formed. There’s a very strong determination to do whatever is possible for the Quinns.
“We want them to feel supported so they can just battle and get through this,” Tracy says.
Yes, there’s fear – so much. But you know what Shawna has leaned into instead? Love. The best way for me to convey the strength that honestly, awes me right now, is to quote her directly. She let everyone know what was going on with Violet, in a blog that brought many of us to tears:
“I could say a million things – about how absolutely precious she is, and how unfair that something so awful could happen to such a perfect little angel. How the world is unjust and cruel and that I’ll never be able to get through this.
But I could also say that I feel an overwhelming sense of gratitude and love. For the people that have shown their support. For the brilliant minds and hearts working on Violet’s situation at this amazing hospital. At the family I have, and the community, and the perspective that is allowing me to hold my head up and face this thing.”
Shawna, Matt, Lucy and Violet. We’re behind you all the way.
Here’s the link to the Go Fund Me, organized by their friends.