Meet Holly and Emily: How Bear Essentials helps one Nanaimo family in their day-to-day life

Ask Holly to describe Emily, her teenage daughter, and Holly is quick to reply. Emily likes dancing and loves singing, especially anything by One Direction. She likes performing and being the centre of attention, and has a real competitive edge. Emily has spunk, and a lot of it packed into her small frame.

Emily is a bright light, and her complex health challenges are no match for that big personality.

Emily was born with Down syndrome, an immunodeficiency that resulted in serious infections during Emily’s early years, and gastrointestinal challenges that mean she relies on a feeding pump to continuously supply her nutrition. Years later, Emily was also diagnosed with autism and Crohn’s, so Holly is more than a little familiar with the various products, medications, and equipment essential to best support her daughter in her day-to-day life – as well as the costs that accompany them. With Emily’s diagnoses, Holly found that expenses racked up quickly.

Holly first turned to Bear Essentials in 2014. Emily’s occupational therapist told Holly about the program and helped her through the application process. Bear Essentials fully funded a product that would have been a big financial stressor for Holly, but that was imperative to Emily’s independence. Fast forward to 2017, and Bear Essentials began funding a specialized, non-invasive test that monitors Emily’s Crohn’s, preventing flare-ups and hospitalization. This test isn’t covered by government funding but is an essential, preventative test for Emily’s health and well-being.

“There is already a lot of stress and worry day to day, and some of those stresses and worries will always be there,” says Holly. “But to have the financial stress removed and know there is support for the immediate needs – it’s almost like feeling you’ll never be alone.”

But when Emily fell and broke her foot just before going back to school in September, Holly remembers fearing she would have to find a way to pay for Emily’s boot. Emily’s accident was an unexpected cost. It was unrelated to her chronic health challenges and a big stress on the family.

“It was the weekend before Labour Day. We were getting ready to buy school supplies and already had so many costs. I felt like it was either school supplies or the boot, but of course, the boot would win out!”

With support from hospital staff, Holly benefitted from the Bear Essentials program and received 100% coverage for this indispensable piece of medical equipment for Emily. The aircast walking boot is crucial as Emily recovers from her injury, but also ensures Emily can go about her day-to-day life.

“The boot enables her to have, as much as possible, a level of normalcy. She can still go to school, and she hasn’t been excluded.”

Over the last few years, the Bear Essentials program has been a huge help in ensuring Emily gets access to the specialized equipment she needs, in all areas of her life.

“There’s no question that Bear Essentials has positively impacted Emily’s life, her care, and the way that she can be a vibrant 16-year-old. She will always have challenges and she will always have complex health needs. Those can’t be taken away, but for Bear Essentials to lessen those challenges? That’s huge.”

Already a bright light, Bear Essentials allows Emily to truly shine as the star she is.

Thanks to the support of generous donors like you, families like Holly and Emily’s can continue to receive the health care they need. You can support programs like Bear Essentials by making a gift to the Kids First Fund today.

Learn more about the program here

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