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For moms with cancer, some welcome relief

With their team of nannies, Shauna and Audrey Guth provide free child care.

Fernando Morales/The Globe and Mail

The Donor: Audrey Guth

The Gift: Creating Nanny Angel Network

The Reason: To help mothers battling cancer

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After Audrey Guth was diagnosed with breast cancer five years ago, she spent a lot of time in treatment at Princess Margaret Hospital, but one visit changed her life in an unexpected way.

Ms. Guth runs a hiring agency called Diamond Global Recruitment and, for years, she recruited nannies from overseas. While sitting in the waiting room at the hospital one day, she saw some young mothers also waiting for treatment but with their children in tow. "I was seeing these women who had children climbing all over them," Ms. Guth recalled from her home in Toronto. "And I'm thinking to myself, 'Oh my God, I've lived in a nanny world for so many years and there are all of these families that wouldn't dream of having such a luxury.' What a tremendous thing we could do for them to offer them a little bit of support while they were going through treatment."

That visit led Ms. Guth to create the Angel Nanny Network, a charity that provides free child care to mothers with cancer. Volunteer nannies from the organization help out a few days a week, usually when a mother has to go for treatment. So far about 160 families have been helped and the charity has about 60 volunteers, including retired teachers, nurses and child-care workers. All volunteers go through background checks and a training program provided by the Network.

"We can't provide full-time permanent care. It's really part-time relief care to let them go to the doctor or to their treatment, or just to rest," said Ms. Guth, 58, who has been cancer free for four years. She added that the nannies typically arrive with a backpack of toys and activities for the children, "kind of like Mary Poppins."

Ms. Guth runs the charity with her daughter, Shauna, and together they raise about $100,000 a year to keep it going. She hopes to take the service nationally and has fielded inquiries from the United States.

While running the charity and her business takes a toll at times, Ms. Guth has no regrets. "We had an opportunity to make a difference. It's almost a no-brainer."

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About the Author
European Correspondent

Paul Waldie has been an award-winning journalist with The Globe and Mail for more than 10 years. He has won three National Newspaper Awards for business coverage and been nominated for a Michener Award for meritorious public service journalism. He has also won a Sports Media Canada award for sports writing and authored a best-selling biography of the McCain family. More


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