Stories in 2013 that hit us in the gut

We shared some emotional stories with you this year about parents and grandparents fighting for their children.

Here are a few that stood out for the Now news team. Let us know what story about parenting hit you the hardest by emailing us at edit@thenownewspaper.com or by scanning this page with your free Layar app.

SURREY MOM URGES PARENTS TO SPEAK UP ABOUT AUTISM

Earlier this year, Janet Marutawana shared her experience as a mother of an autistic child.

Farai has autism, a neurodevelopmental disorder that affects one out of every 88 children, according to Autism Speaks, the largest autism science and advocacy organization in North America. While Farai undergoes behavioural treatment daily, he still has outbursts – outbursts that his mom can’t control.

In an interview with the Now, Marutawana spoke out about challenges both she and Farai face when out in public and the silence surrounding the disorder.

She went on to discuss her son’s treatment, his future and the toll the condition has taken on the whole family.

Marutawana was finishing her GED at the Langley Education Centre at the time of the story. She said she hopes to take criminology at university, “Even if it takes me 10 years to finish” because of the constant attention required by Farai.

It’s been a tough road for the whole family. Between Marutawana’s night classes, her husband’s graveyard shifts and Farai’s troubles, the whole experience has worn on them.

Furthermore, the 24-hour needs of Farai have caused his older sister, 15-year-old Chenai, to feel neglected.

After all the public outbursts that Farai has had, Marutawana has learned a valuable lesson about judging others, and she hopes passersby adopt the same sentiment.

“I always say that everybody’s got a story, so when you see somebody out there, something’s happening in their lives,” she said. “That’s why I do not get as upset with people because I don’t know their story either.”

Read the full story online.

DAD TAKES DAUGHTER’S SPEECH ON POT TO SUPREME COURT

We first heard from David Hutchinson in October, when he shared the story of his daughter, Beth, who had cancer.

Beth’s mother died of breast cancer in 2009 at Peace Arch Hospital, and two weeks before she died, Beth was diagnosed with a brain tumour.

Beth was given a life expectancy of eight to 14 months, which was prolonged by numerous rounds of chemotherapy, radiotherapy and five brain surgeries. But it wasn’t until about 18 months after her diagnosis that her father found something else that could treat her tumour: cannabis.

Beginning April 1, 2014, the federal government’s Marihuana for Medical Purposes Regulations (MMPR) will replace previous legislation that allowed medicinal marijuana users to grow their own plants. Hutchinson would no longer be able to get medicinal marijuana from his daughter’s old supplier, and he expects commercial prices to skyrocket.

Compared to his current rate of about $3,650 per year, Hutchinson will have to pay $32,850 to $43,800 for the same amount of medicinal marijuana that his daughter currently uses.

It was a goal of hers to speak about the benefits of medical marijuana at a cannabis conference.

Sadly, Beth passed away on Oct. 25 before she could do so.

David has enlisted lawyer John Conroy to ensure that his daughter has a voice on Parliament Hill. Conroy – one of four plaintiffs in a class-action lawsuit against the federal government – is heading to Ottawa to lobby the Supreme Court to amend the incoming Marihuana for Medical Purposes Regulations (MMPR), which the suit alleges violate constitutional rights of medical marijuana users.

To David, his daughter’s words are ones the federal government needs to hear.

“The illusion that marijuana is a dangerous, harmful substance needs to be shattered,” wrote Beth. “As logical people, we need to ask ourselves why substances like nicotine and alcohol that frequently lead to violence and death are legal when cannabis is not.

“If Health Canada is allowed to make these changes, I may be denied the medication that

is helping me more than anything I’ve taken provided by a pharmaceutical company – I may be someone who has a terminal disease, but it is our government that is truly sick.”

Read the full stories online.

GRANDFATHER OF DEAF GIRL FIGHTS FOR TRAFFIC SIGNS Twice this year, the grandfather of a deaf four-year-old girl has asked the City of Surrey for traffic signs to alert drivers of her condition.

Richard Landale said his granddaughter, Kate Bishop, who is permanently deaf, is in danger in her own front yard. He wants the city to install two signs, one north and one south of Kate’s home.

At a transportation and infrastructure committee meeting in December, Landale asked for deaf signage for the second time. Landale said the provincial government clearly authorizes senior traffic staff to use their discretion for signage.

Staff expressed concern that such signs would create a false sense of security and added they weren’t sure what drivers would do differently if they saw the sign, other than know children may not react to honking.

City staff also noted a variety of other Lower Mainland municipalities as examples. Coquitlam and North Vancouver don’t install special signs for the disabled. Maple Ridge had one previously, but removed it. Burnaby installed one sign near a school for the deaf, and Langley has one, but has plans to remove it. Outside of the Lower Mainland, Brampton, Ont. has nine such signs.

Staff said they were surprised to learn Surrey has three disabled signs, and those are being reviewed with the intention to remove them. Landale disagreed with staff ‘s logic.

“The city is prolific with their signs about sharing the road with cyclists. This is an information sign. How does that cause a driver to react differently?” he said. “If there’s merit for (a sign for) sharing the road with a cyclist, there’s merit for a sign for deaf children. You have yellow signs. You have green signs. You have signs for tractors. You have signs for everything. You even have signs for a deer crossing.”

Compiled by Amy Reid

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