Lincoln Ferrabee’s CHEO Story
CHEO was not something we had even considered other than the occasional donation. We certainly didn’t ever expect to need it, rely on it, be grateful for it.
Lincoln’s pregnancy was wonderful, easy, and healthy right up until it wasn’t. He was born unexpectedly eight weeks early, but came into the world with a strong scream and two elated and wholly inexperienced parents. He spent just under three weeks in the Special Care nursery under the watchful eyes of wonderful nurses and doctors. When we were finally able to take our little guy home we were so excited.
And for a year and a half we remained so. Getting to know Lincoln’s laid-back personality, his mischievous sense of humour and his enthusiasm for life and the people around him. He hit his milestones. Not always on time, but he had been so early that we weren’t seriously concerned. But then things started to change. His growth slowed and he slipped right off the growth chart. He missed his gross motor and speech milestones. He started cruising and walking with his much beloved motorcycle on his toes. Not walking on his toes, but up on his toes, struggling to walk.
After appointments with our family doctor, pediatrician and then our neurologist, we were given a diagnosis of cerebral palsy.
We were referred to the OCTC and CHEO and began what has become a supportive and reassuring relationship for both Lincoln and us as his parents.
Lincoln’s physiotherapists have not only guided Lincoln through his therapy and treatment, but have along with the speech therapists, an orthopaedic specialist, physiatrist, neurologist, and other specialists and support workers, guided us through the acceptance of his condition, encouraging us back to the appreciation of his many talents and abilities. Many have formed special relationships with Lincoln, and he knows he has an army at his back supporting and advocating for him. Literally cheering him on as he took his first independent steps at that school just over a year ago.
They have taught him walk up stairs, look for curb cuts in his wheelchair, and manage a down hill ramp without slamming into the wall. But more importantly they have taught him that his walker, his canes, and his wheelchair are tools that serve him and his independence. Not devices that limit him.
Through group programs we have met other parents going through similar situations, reducing the feelings of isolation and judgement that can come with a child whose needs and abilities aren’t reflected on a milestone checklist.
Since those first days of diagnosis, with so much help from CHEO, Lincoln has continued to grow and develop, becoming his best possible self. He goes to CHEO’s school and is absolutely thriving. He is bright, happy, funny, curious, and kind. He is in an environment that cares about those things more than how he moves about the world. A place where diversity is the norm, and differences are celebrated and appreciated, and also, strangely, irrelevant.
We couldn’t be more grateful for our relationship with CHEO, as a treatment centre but also as a refuge. The world is not always a kind place, but CHEO always is.