Introducing our 2014 CHEO Ambassador

Jennifer

My name is Jennifer and I just turned 19 years old. As a teenager you rarely think about hospitals or worry that you will ever need to use their services. Yet, I have recently come to appreciate CHEO and how it cares for its patients, from newborns to older youth like myself. CHEO gave me the tools I needed to fight for my life. And fight I did!

The past two years have been a roller coaster of emotions. A mixture of trials and triumphs. I got very ill because of an eating disorder I didn’t realize I had. It is a pernicious disease, one that permeates your life and can have dire consequences on your health. It can cause heart conditions and kidney failure.

An eating disorder takes over your life, and without realizing it, you withdraw from the ones you love and stop doing the things you previously enjoyed.

You just aren’t yourself.

But I am one of the lucky ones. Not only because my parents were advocates for me but because a spot opened up at CHEO on the mental health unit in their eating disorder program. That meant that I could start treatment and get the help I needed. I stayed at CHEO for three months as an inpatient, and then I took part in the day treatment program for another six months. I fought hard to get my health back and it was worth every effort. I had to give it my all. I had to face things head on and deal with my emotions.

In fact, the team at CHEO helped me understand what I was dealing with and battle it! They helped me develop a toolkit of new coping behaviours that are much healthier.

I also made really special friends at CHEO. I still visit some of the staff from time to time and I befriended some teenagers on the unit I was in. I also met younger kids on a pediatric ward like Brody and Emily. In fact, Emily cheered me on and I returned the favour. We still keep in touch today.

After my experience at CHEO I started to see life in a different way. Even though I would never want to relive those two years, I would not change them for the world as they have made me who I am now. I am strong. I am healthy and I am well.

I look forward to starting college in the fall in the Child Youth Worker program because I want to help kids in need. I now look to the future with anticipation and for that, I am grateful for my family and for the help I received at CHEO.

Please support CHEO and help more kids and youth like me get the help they need. ..when they need it. There is currently a waiting list to get treatment in the mental health unit at CHEO and that’s not right. If I would have had to wait six to nine months before I received treatment I probably would have died. I was that ill.

With your support, CHEO will help more kids see that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Please give them a fighting chance.

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