Windsor woman dying of cancer pleads to see Michigan family one last time

Diane Costello’s dying wish is to see her parents who live in Michigan, but COVID-19 restrictions are keeping them from reuniting. 

“It would mean the world to me, this will be the last time I ever see them,” she said from her hospice room in Windsor. 

Two years ago, Diane was diagnosed with colorectal cancer and in March she was told that there were no other options because treatment had stopped working, her daughter Shayla confirmed to CBC News. 

Unsure of how much time she has left, Diane said she just wants to be able to see her American parents — Marolyn Hotchkiss, 77, and Norman Hotchkiss, 80 — who haven’t visited her in person for six months. 

Under the Quarantine Act, the federal government has made it mandatory for anyone crossing the border to self-isolate for 14 days to monitor for symptoms of COVID-19. 

But Diane’s parents have their own health concerns, which prevent them from quarantining without medical treatment for two weeks once they cross the border. 

Shayla and Diane have been pleading with local government officials, including the region’s MP Brian Masse and MP Irek Kusmierczyk, to grant their family and exemption from the order. 

Kusmierczyk has brought the matter to federal Minister of Health Patty Hajdu’s office. 

“It’s heartbreaking,” Shayla, 22, said. “It’s not just us whose in [this] situation and like my mom said, it’s her wish, it’s her parents … it’s so hard just to be here alone … we’ve been trying and we’re not going to give up.”

Government not making exceptions for ‘compassionate reasons’ 

In an email to CBC News, the federal government said while they cannot directly comment on Shayla and Diane’s situation, they “recognize the challenges this pandemic and temporary border measures have posed for families and [the government] has sought ways to keep families together and support family unity while respecting measured public health controls.”

The statement continues to read that the federal order under the Quarantine Act “requires anyone entering Canada, unless exempt, to isolate for 14 days if they have symptoms of COVID-19, or to quarantine (self-isolate) themselves for 14 days if they are asymptomatic in order to limit the introduction and spread of COVID-19.

Under this order, there are currently no exemptions for compassionate reasons, such as visiting critically ill loved ones in hospitals/long-term care facilities, or the attendance of funerals.”

An order by the Canadian government’s under the Quarantine Act makes it mandatory for anyone crossing into the country to self-isolate for two weeks and monitor for symptoms of COVID-19. (Rob Gurdebeke/The Canadian Press)

‘I just want to see my parents’

While Shayla and Diane understand the federal order, they don’t know how much longer Diane has to live and said they are willing to do anything to bring their family members over. 

“Please I don’t care who has to do it, I just want to see my parents … that’s all I want, even just a five minute visit,” Diane said through tears. “When I need them now the most, they can’t come.” 

Though they’ve been able to do video calls, Diane said nothing compares to an in-person visit. 

Shayla said she wants to make this happen, even if it’s a window visit, just so that “my mom can hear their voice and hear their laugh, just [to] bring some normalcy back in our life.” 

Despite all the Costellos have faced over the past two years, they said they remain positive that a miracle will happen and have felt the support from many people across Windsor and Michigan.