Chase River resident pledges support for struggling Ladysmith family

Rowan Butler commends the Lacroix family for their tireless optimism in the face of debilitating challenges; calls on public for support.


I grew up in the Ladysmith/Yellowpoint area and have always been proud of that fact. The Christmas Light Up is definitely a big way that Ladysmith celebrates the community as well as the wonderful hospitality and care the community shows to others.

Which brings me to why I am writing this letter.

There is a wonderful family in Ladysmith, the Lacroix family. They have lived in Ladysmith for over 12 years. Julie, the mom, works tirelessly with special needs children and has been the difference in so many children’s lives. Gary, the dad, coaches karate and is a mechanic around town and always has time to lend a hand and share a story. Katy, the daughter, works hard at everything she does and is planning a career that supports the needs of others. And Niel, the son, is a self-taught rocking guitar player and an inspiration to so many others who face the terrible reality of health issues that make even the strongest pause for breath.

Julie, after working full-time for over 30 years, has had to have brain surgery. The neuralgia in her face became so overwhelming that life became unbearable. She fortunately was, after many trials and tribulations, able to get a surgery in her brain to numb the continual pain. Her recovery is slow and has impacted her ability to work and support her family.

Gary has struggled with the devastating reality of Crohn’s disease through many operations and the constant drugs to support him through the day, and not all days are supportable. He also is unable to work full-time, and that has taken a toll on him and the family.

Katy, struggling with the aftermath of being involved in a car accident through no fault of her own, faces months and months of rehabilitation.

And of course my friend Niel. Niel, who 20 years ago came into this world (a twin, Niel and Katy) and faced surgery after surgery on his heart. Niel has been through what most of us can’t even begin to imagine medically. He has now become the second person in Canada to receive a cow valve into his heart! Through technology, this time, it did not mean opening up his chest again! The surgery went well; the resistance to staff infection did not. He was airlifted back to Children’s Hospital in Vancouver in late April with an infection in his heart. Another week, back to Nanaimo Hospital for follow up and intravenous. He now must have an intravenous dose of antibiotics every four hours. Julie says he is not out of the woods yet, but … they are positive.

The facts are, they are all positive! They continually amaze me with their generosity, positive outlooks on life and the ability to always look to the future.

They have struggled for so long medically that the house they live in has taken some of the brunt of non-existent funding for repairs, the little dog they have has now become blind and vet bills are not cheap. Their car is older, but as Julie says, it gets them to the hospital.

The financial burden of raising a family, repairing a house and not being able to work has taken its toll.

How can we help the Lacroix family?

Thank goodness for the thrift store shop in Ladysmith, but it doesn’t  cover the enormous cost of home repairs, etc. The emotional drain, coupled with financial worries, are day to day for this family.

While others are planning their summer holidays, the Lacroix family is planning on how to keep the bills paid, make it to doctor visits and still find a way to fill their lives with the positive and not focus on the negatives.

Niel needs support always, such an inspiration for others at Children’s Hospital and their families.

Julie’s brain is better; the doctors are as unsure as she is about what recovery looks like, but she doesn’t take time to worry about that as her family always comes first! Gary, some days are good, some really are bad! And Katy works hard, pitches in and stays supportive, pretty hard when as a twin, she sees her brother struggle so hard.

Julie Lacroix has a bank account at the CIBC in Ladysmith. If anyone or any organization would be able to help support the Lacroixes in any way, I cannot begin to tell you what that would mean. I will continue doing what I can.

Please, if nothing else, don’t forget that others’ lives can be a world apart from our own, and try and do what you can for all the children who struggle with severe medical issues in our world.

Rowan Butler

Chase River