A small part of the Moore family, with Stacey and Cary in the centre. Cary is holding Maggie, who they’ve adopted. Their biological daughters, Cassie and and Amara and their adopted son, Billy. (Candace Fast photo)

Chilliwack: Time to help the helpers

Family who fostered 56 kids hoping to gain some precious together time to fight cancer

Stacey and Cary Moore are big on family. Really big.

The Chilliwack couple has raised an impressive 58 children over several decades, between their two biological daughters, Amara and Cassie, foster children, and those they’ve adopted. It’s a jaw-dropping number, and some have been with them longer than others — but they can recall every single one of them.

“We’re a busy household,” Stacey says, as their seven-year-old daughter Maggie zooms around their living room. Maggie is globally delayed and despite her size is developmentally a two-year-old. She was one of their many foster children, and they adopted Maggie soon after she came to them.

But now, that happy, busy lifestyle has been slowed almost to a halt.

Earlier this year, Stacey was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a form of bone cancer. Cancer cells have been found in high concentration in her bone marrow, and she’s currently undergoing treatment to extend her lifespan.

But it’s not a cure.

“There is no cure,” Cary explains. “But if this is not working, we can try other things.”

She is in chemotherapy treatments these days, and stem cell therapy will happen later this year.

Whatever comes in the next few months, they want to get through it as a family. And that’s going to mean Cary stays off work as a flight attendant. It’s a change that’s going to cut deep into their finances for that loss of income and benefit coverage.

And while initially he didn’t want to ask the community for donations, the reality of the level of care needed in their home began to sink in. They are a Level 2 foster care home through the Ministry of Families and Children, with training requirements for themselves and any caregivers they bring in.

“In order for us to have any reprieve, it’s a challenge,” Cary says. “We can’t just have anyone in here.”

They are also a “Safe Baby” home through the ministry, and have had many babies, and children with special needs, come to stay with them. On average, a child stays about two years. They also spend a lot of time with the families of the children they care for, getting to know and helping with eventual replacing them into their family’s home.

“Some of them we see still, and some we don’t,” he adds. One of their sons, Andrew, died tragically two years ago at age 26.

They have done so much for Chilliwack’s children, that their church and family and friends urged them to go along with a GoFundMe fundraiser. Cary has already been off work a lot through their cancer journey.

Stacey’s illness started to manifest itself with an intense earache that wouldn’t go away — even with antibiotics. She says she had been getting giant cold sores, and was feeling more and more ill. Her eardrum finally burst, and she was in excruciating pain. Bedridden with vertigo, the once vibrant mom who could handle anything had to lean against Cary’s back to be piggybacked to the bathroom.

When an ENT looked at her, they recall, he said ‘that doesn’t look right.’

“The vertigo was so bad, I could not even stand,” she says.

It wasn’t long before they were whisked into the world of cancer care. They remain hopeful, and as Christians are using their faith for strength and courage.

They are trying to balance their busy life with caring for Stacey as well now. It’s not as if they can send their children elsewhere, they say.

“That’s our life,” Stacey says. “They’re our kids. You can’t bubble wrap everything, you can’t put your kids in a Ziploc bag.”

They started fostering in 1990, the same year they married. It was an easy life choice for Cary, who was raised by his parents in a very similar household.

“I was already exposed to the need,” says Cary.

“I was very naive,” Stacey adds. But she knew she had a bigger purpose in life. They go to a missions-minded church, and she has been to places like Africa and Haiti to help communities there.

“But I’ve always asked myself ‘what else should I be doing?’” she says. “I’m living my passion, which is giving back to my community.”

In addition to the GoFundMe page, Cary has been keeping a regular blog of their medical updates on a private Facebook page. They are sharing photos, stories, hopes and fears. They’re teaching people about multiple myeloma, which isn’t genetic and is generally a cancer that older people get.

“I’m only 48,” Stacey says. “I just feel that I’m too young.”

Their GoFundMe account is called ‘Help Cary and Stacey – Let’s Give to the Givers’ (see link on this story at theprogress.com/community). It is currently at about $12,000 toward a $50,000 goal.

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