This Heartbreaking Ad Shows What It's Really Like to Be the Parent of a Sick Child

'You don't know how strong you are until strong is the only choice you have.'

It's no secret that watching your child fall victim to cancer (or any life-threatening illness) is absolutely heartbreaking. But, for those of us who haven't experienced it, that pain can be hard to truly understand.

But in a new, powerful ad, Toronto-based charity SickKids Foundation is giving us an inside look at what it's really like to be the parent of a child with a debilitating, chronic, or even terminal illness. The ad — which features both actors and real moms of sick children — shows there are tears and pain and days when it seems impossible to even get out of bed. But there are also moments of great strength: Tears are wiped away, smiles are shared with friends and family, and there are days when you do get out of bed, even if it still feels impossible.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

In a recent interview with TODAY, one mom featured in the video, Natasha Koss, confirmed that the ad shows exactly what she has experienced since her daughter Selena was diagnosed with cancer at age 4 — both the good and the bad. Koss said she hopes the ad opens people's eyes to the extent to which parents struggle behind closed doors when their children are sick, despite how strong they may seem on the outside.

Most Popular

"We don't show that pain to the world... I remember hearing the expression, 'You don't know how strong you are until strong is the only choice you have,'" she told TODAY. "When something like this happens, your only survival tool is to stay strong and positive."

Thankfully, after 36 weeks of aggressive cancer treatment, Selena, now 6, is in remission. What helped Koss most during her hardest days while her daughter was sick? The little things, like a simple call or text to check in, she told TODAY.

"A lot of people stay away because they don't know what to say," Koss said. "But it's OK to even just send a text message and say, 'Hey, is everything OK? I'm praying for you.'"

To purchase a Mother's Day gift through SickKids Foundation and benefit children in need, visit

[h/t TODAY]

More from Dr Oz The Good Life: