Parents

Ad shows raw emotion and strength of moms with sick kids

It’s painful and heartbreaking to watch, but for the moms in the new video for the SickKids Foundation, it’s real life.

A new ad released by the Toronto-based charity features the gripping reality of what it’s like to be the mother of a child suffering from a difficult illness. The video features both actors and five real moms of sick kids experiencing everything from tears, anger and sadness to pure strength for their children.

One of the moms in the video says there’s not a scene in it that she didn’t experience herself.

Natasha Koss' daughter Selena, 6, was diagnosed with cancer when she was 4. “I remember hearing the expression, ‘You don’t know how strong you are until strong is the only choice you have,’ Koss told TODAY. “When something like this happens, your only survival tool is to stay strong and positive.”

But no matter how strong you are, it's still painful. The ad shows the heartache moms go through behind-the-scenes, from streams of tears to screaming in the car. Koss says the video is raw and real, and that’s what makes it powerful.

“They didn’t sugarcoat it,” she said. “They put the real story out there and showed our side.”

Koss says that she hopes the video will help people understand the struggles that moms of sick kids go through.

Never miss a parenting story with TODAY's newsletters! Sign up here

“I’ve had family members watch the commercial and say they didn't realize all that pain was there,” she said. “We don't show that pain to the world. You don't really cry in front of strangers. All these things happen when no one's watching.”

One of the best things someone can do if their friend or loved one is going through this pain is to call and check in, Koss said.

“A lot of people stay away because they don't know what to say, but it's okay to even just send a text message and say, ‘Hey, is everything okay? I'm praying for you.’”

There are other ways to show your support, too. The video ends with the plea, “This Mother’s Day, help a SickKids mom stay strong.” It promotes a link to getbettergifts.ca, where you can purchase heartfelt products that give back to the SickKids Foundation to help families like Koss and her daughter.

And there is some happy news for Selena: after 36 weeks of aggressive chemotherapy treatment, her CT scan results came back clear last May, and she’s currently in remission. To celebrate last summer, Koss, along with her family and friends, threw her daughter an “End of Chemo party.”

TOP