She’s small but mighty. Ella, a toddler from Cape Breton, NS, has endured her share of medical challenges, but her smile remains bright. Her voice fills her home with laughter.
When Ella was five months old, she fell from a bed during a diaper change and broke her leg. Her mother, an emergency room nurse, knew that wasn’t normal, and after extensive testing, Ella was diagnosed with Osteopetrosis – a rare genetic condition that causes her small bones to become very dense.
Her treatment required a bone marrow transplant at Toronto’s Sick Kids Hospital – a procedure that started with a week of chemotherapy to prepare her bones for new cells. Ella spent another month at the IWK Health Centre in Halifax before heading home to Sydney, NS, to continue her recovery.
Monitoring and treating Ella’s condition has meant a lot of travel for her and her family, as they make the four-hour journey to the IWK for check-ups and appointments. They have often counted on local favourites like the Aulds Cove Irving Big Stop, welcoming and clean, as they made round-trips on the same day.
The family is grateful for the support offered through the Irving Oil Fuel the Care program, which offsets travel costs helping families when it matters most. In a bid to give back, the family ensures they fuel up at the Fuel the Care pumps in the Halifax area. They know this gesture helps families like theirs.
“You never think you’ll have a sick child,” says Ella’s mother, Jennifer. “It’s great to see so much support and everybody helping out. It truly makes a difference.”
Ella’s treatment led to immunosuppression, from which she continues to recover.
Today, Ella is recovering well: walking, climbing and playing like most healthy toddlers.
“She beats to her own drum,” says her father, Ryan. Ella and her big brother Boyd love spending summer days splashing around in the family pool. Her family’s mantra throughout her journey has been to “keep on swimming.” And now, it’s one of her favourite activities.