It is safe to say moms have one of the toughest jobs in the world, if not the hardest one. It is a lifetime’s work in which they are always giving their best. From wiping noses and packing lunches, to helping with homework and giving life advice; they make the world go round. 

SickKids mom Gillian Ginesi and her daughter Roux Ginesi

The pandemic has impacted mothers everywhere and given them a hard time. SickKids moms have experienced an especially challenging year with navigating pandemic restrictions, isolation, and other healthcare challenges. 

For Mother’s Day this year, SickKids will be releasing a new video titled “SickKidsMoms VS HardDays” to honor the strength and resilience of moms during these challenging times. The video is about 10 real mothers who share their raw experiences that motherhood brings while having an ill child. Dealing with the illness of a loved one is hard, especially when it is your own child. The video aims to make mothers feel encouraged and to let them know they are not alone. 

Everyone has good and bad days, and usually, people tend to take good days for granted. For moms with sick kids, the good days mean everything to them. 

As a gesture to give to mothers on this special day and to help support them on the hardest ones, SickKids will be uniting with Get Better Gifts, a program that helps fund treatments and resources for children who are hospitalized. 

Kate Torrance, Vice President of the SickKids Foundation, and Gillian Ganesi, a SickKids mom, opened their hearts and shared their experience working on this project and their hopes for it. 

What was the inspiration behind this launch? 

“The Mother’s Day occasion allows the brand to tell a different side to the SickKids story – the impact of having a sick child on the mom. We know all mothers can relate to the stress and anxiety you feel when your child is sick.  And as with all work within the VS platform, we aim to show not just the need, but the strength and resilience of our patients and families.

This story takes the viewers on a journey through the hardest days, but leaves them feeling inspired and filled with admiration for the mom, and hopefully moved to get involved – helping other SickKids moms by purchasing a ‘Get Better Gift’. There’s also the built-in personal appeal of crafting the film in a mom v-log style. It makes it feel very current, and very personal – like you’re watching content created by someone you already know and love. 

We noticed that more and more SickKids moms were using social media as an outlet to share their day-to-day experiences and capture the ups and downs in their child’s SickKids journey – especially in light of the pandemic where they were more isolated than ever. This insight inspired the campaign’s ‘day in the life’ mom vlog-style video and helped inform the team’s approach to interviewing 10 mothers of current SickKids patients. Due to the pandemic, and for the first time in a long time, we had to use a family of actors to portray these stories, however, worked hard to ensure the real stories from the 10 SickKids moms and their families came through.” Kate Torrance, Vice President, Brand Strategy and Communications, SickKids Foundation

How did the process of making the video impact you?

“I’ve never seen my experiences brought to life. I haven’t seen anything portrayed or relating to my daughter having stage four cancer that is so real and accurate. The first time I watched it, I was paralyzed, and I had to watch it a couple of times before I could even offer feedback. They captured the unpredictable and ever-changing rollercoaster of emotions that’s felt on any given day.

They captured the grind, the strength it takes to dig deep when you’ve long ago surpassed exhaustion; the stress on the whole family, the element of unfairness for a sibling that is way too often overlooked; the longevity of treatment, the overwhelming amount of meds and the need to carefully keep track of each; the unique perspective of what a good day is- a perspective that only the mother of a critically ill child can understand. I feel that I can show this video to people and for the first time since my daughter was diagnosed, give them an idea of what I’ve been through.

For me, the video serves as a response to the statements, “I don’t know how you do it”, “I couldn’t do it”, and “I just can’t imagine”. Where words fail or there simply are no words to capture the scope of being a SickKids mom, this commercial explains in-depth, in detail, and clearly coming straight from the mind, heart, and soul of a SickKids mom.”  SickKids Mom Gillian Ginesi

 What is the impact you are hoping to get when it is launched? 

“There are many sympathizers when you’re a SickKids mom, but so few who can truly empathize. I hope that SickKids moms who are in the fight see the video and find comfort; I hope they feel less isolated and alone. 

To the broad range of viewers, I hope they gain perspective. I hope they come to realize through the shock factor of such a raw telling, that in an instant, everything can change including their own lives, and especially a mom’s definition of a hard day. 

 The main thing that I hope that the average viewer realizes is that there is an effective way to help every SickKids mom. There is often lots of support when the initial diagnosis is shared in a variety of ways, but the reality is that SickKids moms need support for a much longer period; long after the initial shock of the initial diagnosis wears off. One of the most effective ways to support a SickKids mom is by contributing to the hospital that provides a knowledgeable and experienced team of professionals who are the best in their field. Supporting SickKids gives every SickKids mom exactly what they need- a better chance of comfort and survival for their children in one of the leading children’s hospitals in the world. When contributing to SickKids you lighten the load of a SickKids mom because you’ve contributed to the institution that can help her in all facets of their family’s journey. If that’s not possible, the next best gift is to offer as much time and comfort to their child as possible. These are both gifts that anyone can give a SickKids mom and for a long way to alleviate some of the stress. “ – SickKids Mom Gillian Ginesi