Family is at the heart of the IWK and each family we meet has a unique and powerful story. The Ross family’s IWK story began nearly four decades ago when Jody was a toddler living in Cape Breton. Unable to determine why she was so frequently and seriously ill, Jody’s doctors referred her to the IWK where, at just eight years old, she was diagnosed with a complex case of Crohn’s Disease.
This diagnosis was just the beginning of Jody’s lifelong journey at the IWK. Over the course of an eleven-year period, Jody spent a total of five years and three months at the IWK as an inpatient, enduring several surgeries, treatments and lengthy hospital stays.
Despite it being her home-away-from-home for much of her young life, Jody looks back at her childhood at the IWK, and the care teams who treated her with so much compassion, with gratitude. One of Jody’s most vivid memories is that, even as a little girl, no one at the IWK ever let her fall asleep afraid of being in a strange place. This speaks not only to the amazing care, but to Jody’s courage at such a young age, so far from home.
Thanks to the IWK’s commitment to family-centred care, Jody’s mom, Mary Theresa was by her side as much as possible. The roads between Sydney and Halifax were very well-travelled until her parents made the decision to make Halifax their home – a move that brought Mary Theresa to the IWK Foundation as a full-time member of its fundraising team. What better ambassador for the IWK than a mother who accompanied her child through the darkest of days, the brighter moments of successful treatments, hopeful news and compassionate care at the IWK. Before Mary Theresa’s recent retirement, she worked tirelessly and selflessly to ensure that women and children like Jody, and families like hers, can always count on the IWK when they need it most.
Jody’s story didn’t end when she reached adulthood. The complexity of her medical conditions brought her back to the IWK in 2002. After learning she was pregnant, Jody became critically ill and was admitted under the care of the Women’s Health team. Once again, the IWK became her home-away-from-home as she and her unborn baby courageously fought to survive. There were terrifying times when it looked like neither would make it. Thankfully, Jody defiantly beat the odds just as she has done so many times over the years and gave birth to her beautiful, healthy son, Cameron, without serious complications.
“Cameron and Jody would not be here today without the doctors and nurses who fought valiantly to save both of their lives.” - Mary Theresa Ross
While Jody’s family credits the IWK with saving their daughter and grandchild, Jody’s own determination and resilience is what has inspired her care teams over so many years. She is a remarkable woman whose courage is what has inspired the IWK Foundation to launch the Jody Appeal and support the thousands of patients who rely on the IWK every day.
Jody is an IWK hero.