Bruce Croxon is a tech pioneer, investor, speaker and television host. As a volunteer for Food Allergy Canada, he speaks from experience and advocates strongly for our community. We recently spoke with Bruce about raising a child with food allergies and the unique power of parents in allergy education and awareness.
Food Allergy Canada (FAC): Let’s start at the beginning. Your son Lucas was diagnosed with multiple food allergies when he was one year old. What was your response when he got the diagnosis?
BC: We didn’t know a lot about food allergies at the time, so it was a bit shocking. It was particularly hard for my wife, who was more prone to worrying. The news brought a lot of stress into the family.
FAC: How did you deal with that stress?
BC: We tried to find out all that we could about it. One of the first resources we found was Food Allergy Canada, which was very helpful. Friends and family were also as supportive as they could be, but what we learned is how hard it is for others to be as attentive if one doesn’t live with the threat every day.
FAC: Definitely. We, parents, play a role educating not just our kids but also our communities. You took this on in a big way, spearheading AllergyAware.ca, a free online course to educate school staff on allergy safety. The program is very popular with teachers; I think because they’re aware that allergies are serious but also know they need to learn more.
BC: I can’t tell you how much easier life has gotten as the awareness of allergies has gone up. I’m supportive of any program that communicates useful information to ease the stress of those dealing with life-threatening allergies.
FAC: Your son is a teen now. How has the focus changed since the early years?
BC: Right now a lot of my time is now spent trying to teach him how to self-advocate to eliminate the risk and stay calm during a crisis. We’re hoping this comes with time.
FAC: What’s your advice for parents who are going through this for the first time? It can feel overwhelming.
BC: Yes. Especially in the early years, they are on our watch. But there are a lot worse things to be diagnosed with, and this one is manageable. There is a lot of support available. And food allergies are increasingly common. The good news on that is that resto people, food manufacturers, schools and others are more and more familiar with it.
Take a deep breath. It will be a pain to manage sometimes, but through adversity we become stronger.
FAC: So true. Thank you Bruce, for all you do.
BC: Thank you.