NOW OR NEVER

'If I could choose between having a child with cancer or mental illness, I'd pick cancer hands down'

Lisa O'Connor has two daughters who need treatment, one for cancer and one for obsessive compulsive disorder. But as she said, “The most upsetting part is, really there’s only help for one."
(From left) Jay O'Connor with Lisa O'Connor and Kylie O'Connor. (CBC)
Listen13:07

Kylie O'Connor could pinpoint the exact moment she realized she was different.

She was six or seven years old, in the car with her mom, leaving the grocery store parking lot. She asked, "Mom, do you ever feel like if you don't shut the door 30 times and then open it and then shut it again, the house will burst into flames?"

When her mom said no, Kylie, now 14, remembered, "I felt so alone. I was like, 'Oh my God, it's just me.'"

From that point on, Kylie's mom Lisa was on a quest to first diagnose, and then find treatment for her daughter's obsessive compulsive disorder.

In contrast, her 16-year-old daughter, Kiera, has had a much easier time getting treatment and support for a rare form of Hodgkin's Lymphoma.

"The most upsetting part is, really there's only help for one," Lisa explained. "It's a constant fight … trying to get her the help she needs. But for my other daughter you just go to the meeting, and then they give you a call, and they say, 'You be here on this date, and she's going to have this radiation set up, we're going to do surgery.'"

"This will probably shock people," Lisa said. "But if I could choose between having a child with cancer or mental illness, I'd pick cancer hands down." 


Listen to the full interview with Lisa, Kylie and Jay O'Connor by clicking the Listen button above.