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As parents, we felt the shame associated with HIV.  People fell silent when we told them “our son has AIDS”, you could see fear in their faces. The stigma is real.

Then Jim came to Casey House and the stigma evaporated; it is a safe place, where clients get the care they need.  There is comfort in talking openly about your disease, without judgement.

Vicki and Norman Marianchuk, parents of Casey House client Jim Marianchuk

Our son Jim was a nurse who was happiest when he was working. He spent most of his short career looking after kids, and they loved him.  He was a compassionate person with an incredible sense of humour and a magnetic personality.

Jim tested positive for HIV in 1992.  He was twenty-eight.  Shortly afterwards, he became so sick that not only was he forced to stop nursing, but he had to make the difficult transition from caregiver to patient and entrust himself to the care of others.  He struggled with his health, rotating through emergency units and hospital beds, at times being tube fed.

During this time, Jim not only declined physically, he also experienced an emotional downslide.  Each time he was admitted to emergency and his HIV status was disclosed, Jim got pitying looks from some medical staff that said, `you better get your things in order because this is the end of the line.’ He went through a couple of years where he felt quite hopeless.

As parents, we also felt the shame associated with HIV.  People fell silent when we told them “our son has AIDS”, you could see fear in their faces. The stigma is real.

Then Jim came to Casey House and the stigma evaporated; it is a safe place, where clients get the care they need.  There is comfort in talking openly about your disease, without judgement.

Jim talked about how wonderful Casey House was, and that if anything more serious happened to him he wanted to be there. We gave him our promise that he we would honour his wish.

We kept this promise, and the extraordinary care provided by nurses at Casey House was never more apparent than during the final days.  We understand why Jim wanted to be there, it was beautiful. The lights in his room were dimmed and there were flowers on the mantel, making the room feel like a bedroom.  Those cosmetic details made all the difference to us.

And the staff made our family feel welcome.  They made us comfortable and made the experience less frightening. They were always asking if we needed anything, bringing us food and blankets, taking care of us just as much as we were all taking care of Jim.

Jim lost his battle with HIV, but he died with dignity.  He was treated with compassion and cared for by a team of people who respected him.  The personal and intimate care at Casey House made losing him a bit easier.  We continue to be grateful, and like Jim, say thank you from the bottom of our hearts to the staff, and to donors like you for your support of this exceptional place.

To ensure it remains a place where others like Jim feel a sense of belonging and safety, please make a donation to Casey House today.

With sincere gratitude,

Vicki and Norman Marianchuk