By: Léa Salameh
In early 2015, Cameron Brenan was living life like any normal
10 year-old girl, excelling in school, spending time with family and friends and enjoying hobbies, such as reading and synchronized swimming.
As she was getting ready for her first synchronized swimming competition, Cameron suddenly started feeling weak. She could not stand on her own and her health soon began deteriorating. After several tests, she was diagnosed with Guillain-Barré Syndrome (GBS), a rare condition in which the immune system attacks the nerves, leading to muscle weakness and even paralysis.
“At first, doctors couldn’t find anything wrong with Cameron, they even suggested referring her to a psychologist,” says Cameron’s mom Patty. “Finally, a neurologist saw her and she was immediately diagnosed with GBS.”
Soon after, Cameron was referred to McMaster Children’s Hospital where she began her treatment for two months followed by a move to Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital where she received intensive inpatient rehab for three months.
“The situation obviously impacted our entire family,” says Patty. “Me, my husband and our three kids would take turns to be with Cameron at all times.”
After her time at Holland Bloorview, Cameron joined ErinoakKids in July of 2015 where she started receiving physiotherapy and occupational therapy. Daniela Shea, an ErinoakKids Physiotherapist, worked with Cameron throughout her time at the treatment centre.
“When I first met Cameron, she needed Nordic poles to walk and she took a long time to transfer out of a chair,” says Daniela. “Cameron insisted, she was going to resume synchronized swimming as soon as possible – And indeed she did.”
Cameron and Daniela developed a special bond.
“She kept pushing me to try my best and always encouraged me to try new techniques,” says Cameron. “I never felt like I have to go through this alone.”
The Brennan family credits ErinoakKids for getting Cameron to where she is today. She was able to stand and walk on her own again, and pursue her dream of synchronized swimming.
Whether it was the support received from the therapists or the safety home equipment provided to the family, ErinoakKids was a lifeline for Cameron. “ErinoakKids brought me back to where I needed to be” she says.
Aside from attending school and taking part in competitive synchronized swimming 13 hours per week, Cameron, now 12, loves spending time with her friends whenever she has the chance. She also enjoys reading and is always on a quest to find the next best book.
In the future, Cameron wishes to open her own bakery and share her love of baking with the community. And if that wasn’t enough, she would also like to become an author writing dystopian novels.
With Cameron’s incredible story, the Brennan family wants everyone going through the same situation to know that there is always a light at the end of the tunnel.
“Unexpected things will happen and uncertainty will always be a part of the process,” says Patty. “But endless support will always be available.”