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Carving Scarlett a smile

by Derek Jory / Vancouver Canucks

An astronaut, a pumpkin, a s’more, a Hershey Kiss and a whale dressed as a lumberjack.

Being at Canuck Place Children’s Hospice for the first time was overwhelming enough for Scarlett Cameron, but a Halloween costume and pumpkin carving celebration made her feel right at home.

The beautiful, lively two-and-a-half-year-old girl, dressed in a green, pink, yellow and red onesie, lives with a variety of medical conditions that can mask, compliment or exacerbate each other. Scarlett was born with a chromosome 17 anomaly, which resulted in severe brain matter loss; she is fed through a tube, is an acute insomniac and she can not walk, just to name a few of her challenges.

Scarlett can smile though – a warm, joyous smile that could melt an iceberg.

On her mother Stacey’s lap, surrounded by her dad Jason, older brothers Cole and Carson, Vancouver Canucks play-by-play commentator John Shorthouse and pumpkins, pumpkins, pumpkins, Scarlett’s smile was as wide and bright as her rainbow outfit.

To celebrate the spookiest holiday of the year, Stan Smyl, FIN, Shorthouse and other Canucks Sports & Entertainment employees spent Halloween afternoon elbows deep in pumpkin guts with the children of Canuck Place, including Richard, Jaxson and Scarlett.

Richard, the daring mind behind last year’s mouse-kin, tested FIN with the stencil of a flaming skull for them to carve, while Jaxson, Tanner Glass’ Scrabble companion a few years ago, put Smyl’s carving talents to the test with a zombie face that matched his painted face.

For Scarlett, the design couldn’t have mattered less. She and family, in town from Mackenzie, BC, a community of roughly 5,000 people, were beaming simply because they were together, worry free. Carving a pumpkin is a right of passage for kids and with life responsibilities taken care of by the exceptional staff at Canuck Place, the family focused on carving the best three pumpkins ever.

“When Scarlett’s on, she’s on and when she’s not, she’s difficult,” explained her mom Stacey. “We have lots of people that help us in Mackenzie, but they all have families as well and they all put their families on hold for our family, so it’s nice to not have that guilt here.

“I just want to know how we can move in,” she laughed, seriously. “I told them I wasn’t leaving, but I don’t think they believed me. Seriously, this is amazing, and not just for Scarlett, it’s been great for the whole family.”

Stacey took sons Cole and Carson to the movie Hotel Transylvania, in 3D, a few nights ago for Carson’s first theatre experience. To know Scarlett was taken care of, while being able to spend time dedicated to her sons, time they don’t often get when caring for Scarlett, was important for the family.

Much of their daily lives are devoted to Scarlett and using love to help her overcome her difficulties, so time to re-charge the batteries was priceless.

Watching her light up at the sight of a finished pumpkin was equally as priceless.

“This is her first time in house and the family is super excited to do typical, normal childhood things, like carve a pumpkin with their child,” said Laura Fielding, Canuck Place recreation therapy coordinator.

“They’re here and they’re focused on pumpkin carving and as a parent, I would think that is just a nice gift to have.”

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