Asha: Alive and Well

Asha: Alive and Well

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When a child is sick, things can change in a heartbeat. When it mattered most, the staff at The Janeway made all the difference in the world to one eternally grateful family 

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Expectant parents spend months thinking about what their child’s name should be. As husband and wife, Norm Vincent and Sara Rostotski, were no different.

“Aydan was going to be an older sister, and we wanted the perfect name,” Rostotski begins. Asha, which means woman alive and well, seemed perfect. And Asha was a perfectly well, healthy, happy child until a family vacation in the Dominican just before she turned two.

Straight to the Janeway

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An ear infection that didn’t seem to improve with antibiotics while away led the family to head straight for the Janeway once they landed back home.

A chest x-ray diagnosed pneumonia. More antibiotics; including through an IV every 12-hours, followed. 

“Within days, she was looking better, so we felt positive. But then we were told; something is still there, but I said no. She is fine.”

She wasn’t. Asha had something called Congenital pulmonary airway malformations (CPAM). “It happened while she was being formed in the womb, and  they went back to my 20-week ultrasound and saw it there. They sat us down and said they would have prepped us to have the surgery right after she was born had they noticed, but in a way, this was a blessing. It was somehow easier to have experienced this child so full of life, with a beautiful personality, than to think of a new born who needed surgery,” she says. 

Caring for Asha

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Asha needed to have part of her lung removed. 

“This was the middle of the summer, and when your child goes into the Janeway, you need to be there. We had Aydan at home, so we called in all our help. We needed to be there for our baby.”

Surgery lasted a very long six-and-a-half hours.

“You are in this little room, and they came out to get you, and you see your baby on all these machines, and she’s two. She’s so little. And so are we, on the inside. We are the vulnerable parents. The nurses are there, and it’s this situation where you are absolutely vulnerable. Everything that matters is lying right there and you can’t do anything for your child. We found ourselves relying completely on these nurses. They are there for 12 hours at a time and you get to know them so well and besides caring for your child, they would even make sure Norm and I rested.” 

Running & Playing

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The family remained at the Janeway for two-and-a-half weeks.

Luckily, Asha was fine. Six months later, the family was told the missing part of her lung would actually grow back on its own.

“Dr Hodder told us; carry on your way and make sure she is running and playing and using those lungs as much as she can,” Rostotski says with a relieved smile.  

Now that their scare is over, Rostotski, one of Newfoundland’s most celebrated photographers, focuses on giving back. 

“Doing photography for the Janeway Foundation is very important to me. They saved my daughter’s life. Once you get into the Janeway, you find out it’s packed with angels. It’s one thing to have something going on with yourself, but when it’s your child? Having these amazing nurses there to reassure you, and when a beeper goes off they are there in the room and they talk you through it. It was a very difficult experience, but the hospital staff – their smiling and caring ways and their happy faces, and the care they give your child? That’s everything.”

The Janeway staff, says Rostotski, are ‘brilliant.”

“It’s another ballgame when your heart is living outside of you in this little person and someone else has to be responsible for their care. But they took such great care of her, and such good care of all of us, we got through it and are so grateful.”

Being there gives you an appreciation for the need for the Janeway Telethon. 

“Seeing all these brilliant doctors and nurses and life saving equipment once you are there, you realize this all costs so much money. Thank you to all who gave in the past so we were able to be helped when we needed it, and how blessed are we that we have this care available to us?” 

Asha was lucky – she was only there two and a half weeks. “It was hard yes, but that’s nothing really. Other children are there for months at a time or longer.” 

Janeway Photoshoots

Rostotski took the Janeway’s Imagine Squad images. “We had this amazing time. The Janeway is in my heart now, and I really wanted to give back. Now that I’ve been there, I know it takes a village. These 10 children got to tell their stories and help other children. The energy were so positive. This one boy was six years-old and he’s been fighting cancer for half his life, and his last chemo treatment will be on his seventh birthday. Just knowing the struggle he has gone through and to see his lively personality, to capture that joy in photographs is one of those things that fills your bucket.”

Rostotski also shot the images for this week’s special Janeway Telethon cover. “Hilary, the Champion Child, was so fun to work with. So was Sunny the Bear! Toni walked in on that day embracing everything this stood for. As a mom, it’s so relatable. And Eddie is naturally very relaxed and funny. He made sure everyone was laughing and enjoying themselves. This was a job that carries over an energy that stays with you for a long time.”

And now, is everything good at home? Rostotski smiles. 

“Asha means woman alive and well. I am now realizing what that means. I remind her what her name means often because she can run, she can jump, she can keep up with kids bigger than she is. She is fiery and has a fun personality”

A Magic Moment

It’s funny how, when you deal with a sick child, your perspective changes.

“The ordinary becomes embraced. Sometimes it takes you being in those shoes for you to go; hang on, what’s important? A happy, healthy child who can run and play is a blessing. The first time she laughed in the crib after the surgery. That was a magic moment.”

 Living through an illness like Asha’s changes things. “It gives you gratitude. It makes you realize that in a moment things can be different. Now, having a daughter full of life and energy is everything.”

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Pam is the Managing Editor of The Newfoundland Herald. As the mother of two, she proudly writes about a life lived simply at home on 'The Rock.' When not interviewing or writing about NL's finest, Pam can be found spending her time in the great Newfoundland outdoors.

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