Laura and 13-year-old Grace Drummond speak at a donation celebration for Surrey Memorial Hospital’s Children’s Health Centre. The mother-daughter duo spoke about the importance of the Surrey centre for those living south of the Fraser River. (Photo: Lauren Collins)

South Surrey couple donates $1M to hospital’s children’s centre campaign

Donation brings hospital foundation’s fundraising goal within $1 million

A South Surrey couple has donated $1 million to the Surrey Memorial Hospital’s Children’s Health Centre campaign, bringing the hospital foundation closer to its $6-million goal.

Doctors Peter and Stephanie Chung donated the money Wednesday (Dec. 11) during a celebratory event at the hospital.

The money will go toward the Surrey Hospital Foundation’s Children’s Health Centre renovation.

For families like the Drummonds, having facilities like Surrey’s children’s health centre is already help enough.

Grace Drummond, 13, was diagnosed with leukemia earlier this year and started commuting to Vancouver from Langley for treatments.

Her mom, Laura, said it was stressful for her and “miserable” for Grace going through treatment.

“That takes about an hour-and-a-half, in rush hour, in narrow streets, busy traffic, with the knowledge that I might kill my daughter if I get in an accident. It was stressful for me and it was miserable for her because, I well know, that any time in a vehicle when you’re weak and tired and nauseous is awful and an hour-and-a-half feels like forever,” said Laura, who has lived experience because she was diagnosed with leukemia herself when she was 16.

“I had two-and-a-half years of intensive treatment in Vancouver, because this wasn’t yet open,” Laura said.

“I recovered, I grew up, I got married and I had kids. I never thought I’d have to go through cancer again. Then we got the news that no parent ever wants to get – that my daughter got cancer.”

As soon as they were told about Surrey Memorial’s children’s centre, Laura said she was “immediately won over.”

Grace, she said, struggles with anxiety and chemo is “pushing all of her buttons,” but as soon as she got to SMH, the staff “quickly gained Grace’s trust by listening to her, remembering what helps and just being incredible.”

Laura said just that morning, they were getting Grace’s legs ready for chemo and Grace was concerned because her one leg was quite sore and she wondered if chemo would make it worse.

But right away, Laura said, Grace remembered which nurses were helping her “and that was the end of her worry.”

Grace said the nurses pay attention to each patient “as their own.”

“It makes it less sucky.”

Grace, who has three more months of intensive treatment, said she wanted to thank the Chung family for their donation to the hospital, “which I love.”

Peter said he met Grace Wednesday, adding that she’s a “tremendous lady” and “so positive.”

Peter said they donated because he understands what the parents are going through.

“I know how painful it is for parents to see their children go through this type of treatment. I had a late son (Joseph), he had epilepsy and also autism… Just to have this type of cancer treatment facility in Surrey, instead of driving all the way to Vancouver, I hope and pray that it’ll lessen a little bit of pain for the parents and also for the children who’s getting the treatment.”

Asked if an expanded children’s centre would have helped his family and Joseph, Peter said, “it would have been a heaven for us.”

The renovation, once completed, will help thousands of Fraser Valley children and families to see pediatric specialists closer to home.

It will also add a new treatment room, four new inpatient rooms and up to 14 additional clinic rooms for outpatient care (more than doubling the current five); include four to six new surgical daycare spaces; add a new family-friendly waiting area, kids’ play area, family lounge and kitchen; add new gastroenterology and orthopedic clinics; expand the services of 11 other specialities including neurology, cardiology and nephrology (kidney care); and move the pediatric oncology treatment area to a brighter space overlooking the new playground and outdoor space.

It is the only health centre in the Fraser Valley, “dedicated to children’s health and pediatric emergencies,” according to a release from the foundation.

The Dec. 11 donation brings the fundraising campaign to about $5 million of the $6-million goal.

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