THE FACE OF MIRACLES
Published on December 28, in celebration of Brooklyn Marchand’s 9th Birthday
Throughout the months of November and December, the KGH Foundation’s annual seasonal appeal can be seen throughout the community. This year, our creatives feature the face of a beautiful, smiling young girl. Her name is Brooklyn Marchand and today, she turns 9. In the heart of British Columbia, where the syilx People’s way of being is woven through the valleys and hills, Brooklyn’s story of miraculous resilience and strength unfolds.
Brooklyn is the KGH Foundation’s Face of Miracles this holiday season.
A Mother’s Intuition and the Onset of a Challenge
Brooklyn, born into the warmth of the Okanagan’s syilx community, was welcomed into the world in Vernon on December 28. Her mother, Lauren, vividly remembers the first signs of worry when Brooklyn, barely a year old, stopped walking and showed signs of distress. An abnormally distended belly further heightened Lauren’s concerns.
After months of anxious visits to the doctor, Dr. Michael Cooke, a pediatrician at Vernon Jubilee Hospital, recognized the gravity of the situation. An ultrasound revealed alarming inflammation in Brooklyn’s kidneys, prompting an immediate Medi-Vac transport to BC Children’s Hospital in Vancouver.
The Struggle Far from Home
The journey to Vancouver was fraught with uncertainty and fear. Lauren, holding her baby close, left behind the familiarity of their home for the unknown. The 18-month treatment period at BC Children’s Hospital was a blur of stress and struggle for Lauren, who fought tirelessly to support Brooklyn through her battle with leukemia.
Leukemia is a form of cancer that affects the blood and bone marrow, leading to the production of an excessive amount of immature white blood cells. This abnormal cell growth can interfere with a child’s ability to produce healthy blood cells, which is crucial for fighting infections, carrying oxygen, and preventing bleeding. Leukemia is serious and potentially life-threatening.
During this time, the support from Okanagan Indian Band (OKIB) and First Nations Health was a lifeline, enabling Lauren to stay in Vancouver close to Brooklyn. Despite this, the emotional toll was immense. Lauren recalls losing a sense of her identity, magnified by well-meaning nurses referring to her simply as ‘Mom’.
A Long Road to Recovery and Transformation
Brooklyn’s journey to recovery was long and challenging. The annual trips back to Vancouver for check-ins with her care team were both emotionally and financially draining. Brooklyn’s severe anxiety due to the stress of travel was heart-wrenching for Lauren.
However, hope sparked with the introduction of a pilot project at Kelowna General Hospital (KGH). Recognizing the difficulties faced by families like Brooklyn’s, this initiative, would bring Brooklyn’s Vancouver-based care team, including her oncologist, Dr. Kirk Schultz, to the Okanagan for annual clinics.
A New Chapter of Healing and Growth
Today, as we celebrate Brooklyn’s 9th birthday, we see a vibrant, confident, and loving child, brimming with life. Her laughter and energy light up the room, a testament to her strength and the unwavering support of her family and community. Receiving care closer to home at KGH has not only alleviated the logistical and financial burdens of travel but has allowed Brooklyn to thrive in the comfort and safety of her community.
A Deepening Connection and Community Impact
Our journey with Brooklyn and her family began in 2021 when the KGH Foundation sought guidance from Lauren and her sister Kelsie for training in trauma-informed, culturally sensitive communication. Kelsie’s skilled photography, capturing the essence of health care through an indigenous lens, led to the beautiful image now emblematic of our “Celebrate the Miracles” campaign.
The Power of ‘Closer to Home’
Brooklyn’s story is more than a narrative of overcoming illness; it’s a powerful illustration of our campaign, “Closer to home than you think”. The Marchand family’s experience underscores the importance of accessible, community-centered health care. Their participation in our short film for the campaign highlights the real impact of our work at KGH Foundation.
A Community’s Embrace
Brooklyn’s journey is a beacon of hope and a reminder of the miracles that unfold daily in health care. It celebrates the resilience of the human spirit, the strength of community bonds, and the advancements in medical care. As we stand on the ancestral lands of the syilx people, we are reminded of the deep connections and vital support that have cradled Brooklyn and Lauren through their darkest days.
On this special day, as Brooklyn turns nine, we invite you to join us in celebrating the miracles that your support makes possible. Each contribution brings us closer to a future where every child, like Brooklyn, can receive the care they need, surrounded by the love and support of their community.
Together, we are creating a brighter, healthier future, right here in the heart of British Columbia.
Giving changes everything.