The 12-year-old daughter she’s seen once in five years has been diagnosed with cancer, 13,000 kilometres away in Manila. Andres, a personal support worker who came to Canada in 2007, cries every night after a frantic journey back to the Philippines to be with Dorothy Gail as she started chemotherapy this spring.
The round trip was paid by her Ancaster employer, who has also contributed to Dorothy Gail’s medical costs, as has a neighbour. But the anticipated expense is at least $50,000 for the treatment of Ewing’s sarcoma — a cluster of tumours in the hip.
Andres has been sending money back to her husband, mother and daughter every month for the past five years but there’s no chance she could ever pay these kinds of bills.
A bank account was opened in Andres’ name Tuesday for donations from neighbours, friends and others who want to contribute.
Fortunately, her daughter has a 60 to 80 per cent chance of recovery, Andres said, and a good treatment plan involving chemo to shrink the tumour and then surgery. She is shaken by how difficult it was for Dorothy Gail at the beginning, although things are better now.
“I think about her all the time,” said Andres, who has been in a live-in position with the same family for more than three years, taking care of the employer’s 82-year-old mother and his father, 84, who has kidney cancer.
“I know how hard it is for her,” Andres said of the daughter she left behind in anticipation of a reunion in Canada if an application to sponsor her family is approved. She filed the Immigration Canada paperwork to become a permanent resident, and then to sponsor her family, the moment she was eligible to apply.
Dorothy Gail, who turned 12 last month and has just finished Grade 5, lives with her father — a security guard who makes $200 a month — and her maternal grandmother while Andres awaits processing of the family’s case.
“She’s taking it positively, but she’s so far away.”
Andres said she worries how the cancer could affect the immigration application, and whether the medical history of the couple’s only child might disrupt the family’s plans.
“I just keep having hope,” Andres said.
Under federal immigration law, no particular health condition makes an applicant automatically inadmissible to Canada, a spokesperson for Immigration Canada said.
All applicants must be medically assessed.
But certain categories — including family class sponsored spouses and their dependent children — are exempt from an assessment to determine whether their needs would pose an “excessive demand” on Canada’s health and social services systems.
The spokesperson was speaking generally about Immigration Canada requirements, not about the specifics of the Andres family case.
Andres said she realizes nothing is a sure thing, but said she remains optimistic that the family can be reunited so she can care for her daughter again.
An account has been set up at the Royal Bank, 917 Queenston Rd., Stoney Creek, for Dorothy Gail in Maria Andres’s name.