Funny girl

January 16, 2019
Lydia Black, 15, uses humour to help herself and her family cope with her serious illness.
Lydia and Jennie
If you spend any time at all with 15-year-old Lydia Black, you quickly realize one thing; she has a brilliant sense of humour. Lydia likes to laugh and make others laugh.

The teen from Peterborough, Ont. is making up for lost time.

For many months in 2018, she was confined to a wheelchair while her body fought life-threatening complications from a bone marrow transplant, she received three years ago. It was a painful period in her life, both physically and emotionally.

“Lydia is the most strong-willed, positive, determined person you’ll ever meet,” says her mom, Jennie. She has faced “a lot of bumps” since her transplant in 2015.

The family is grateful to have found a comforting home at Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC) Toronto along the way where they can stay together while Lydia recovers. On weekends, they also welcome Lydia’s older sister, Aleea, and extended family.

“Mentally, this place has been so amazing for her,” says Jennie.

Being a teen with a serious illness carries unique challenges. At an age when friendships and just hanging out is so important, they are often separated from their friends. School is interrupted.

“Lydia has not had a normal teenage life,” says Jennie. But she and Lydia have made lifelong friends with other families they have met at RMHC Toronto.

Lydia and Emma
Lydia keeps everyone laughing, including RMHC Toronto staff like Front Desk Coordinator, Emma.

Lydia is also an enthusiastic attendee of a new teen program recently started at the House.

Since October, 12- to 18-year-old children at the House – both those in treatment and their siblings – have been gathering every Monday night to just hang out. Supported by volunteers, the teens decide each week whether they want to play board games, watch a movie, bake, cook, do tie-dye or play ping pong. Teen Night is something they all look forward to.

For Lydia, it’s a chance to bond with the other teens and explore her emerging interests – in cooking, in crafts and music.

When mom and daughter sit together, you quickly see the bond between them.


“We’re probably closer than most mother-daughters,” says Jennie. They love to joke together.

“Your laugh is funny, mom,” says Lydia.

“I know,” says Jennie. “You recorded it and played it back to me. It was embarrassing.”

“Sometimes I don’t mean to be funny,” adds Lydia. “I just say or do something, and it comes out funny.”

If there is any single word to describe the family, it’s resilient.

“I could sit here and worry all the time, but that’s not fun,” says Lydia.

“You have to stay in the moment,” adds Jennie, “and you have to take your bumps with your blessings.”

RMHC Toronto – where they can live their best life together while their wait for Lydia to be healthy enough to go home – is among those blessings.

Thank you for your support.

(Stay tuned for a story next month about the teen program that Lydia loves.)