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Community Stories

Sarah Dale
Age 11, Guelph, Ontario

Sarah was born on July 12, 2006. At 2 months of age Sarah saw her first emergency room and admission to hospital where she received 2 blood transfusions for her low hemoglobin and was placed on antibiotics for a UTI until she was 4 years old and started to show signs of growth. This is when her mom witnessed her first SMILE & LAUGH… These are just two of the things that she is now known for today here at Ottawa Crescent Public School at 11 years old in grade 6!

Unlike most babies Sarah wasn’t thriving and gaining weight. It took several tests with inconclusive results until she was finally diagnosed at 10 months old with Cystic Fibrosis. This is when she began her frequent appointments and admissions to McMaster Hospital. Her mom explains, “It still amazes me, when I am writing and re-reading these accounts, the number of challenges that Sarah has faced along the way and how she has faced each and every one of them”.

Even at that young age Sarah was tenacious and had that same drive and spirit she demonstrates to this day. When I spoke to her teacher this year her first word to describe Sarah was “perseverance”. Despite the academic struggles she often faces at school that come with being away a significant amount of time due to the many complications and illnesses throughout her academic life she works VERY hard to get through any difficulties that she has and always seeks help. She is known for volunteering and being a compassionate classmate and leader always thinking of other and having a kind word for anyone she meets. Sarah is a role model.

Sarah is my hero. She came to me this year never having told any of her peers that she had Cystic Fibrosis. I have known Sarah for at least 4 years when I returned to the position of librarian after a 5 year leave due to a diagnosis of a late stage cancer. She came to me because she wanted to raise awareness and money for CF and started to visit me daily in the library during both recesses telling me all about her life and CF. Together we started to research CF and she made the decision that she wanted to finally tell her peers about her battle with Cystic Fibrosis. This was a huge step forward for Sarah and her family. She worked every recess on a slide show and found pictures of her at various stages of her life to include in the presentation. She practiced what she would say and we went over how she felt about taking questions. I was the one nervous of opening up questions from her class! She, with conviction, said she wanted the question period. I watched her present to a class of 32 students with tears. She was completely out of her shell and despite being terribly nervous before she started she settled in and handled herself brilliantly. You would never have known such a shy girl could perform with such conviction and passion. She blew me away after holding a very challenging classes attention for 30 minutes and then taking many questions during the question period. She spoke of Cystic Fibrosis as a hidden disability and that she wasn’t going to let it get in her way or change her path and hopes and dreams of a future. Her class, teachers, principal and I were all in awe of her bravery and for finally sharing her story in such a big and public way.

Her presentation had reached the class in a way I wasn’t expecting. She started during the question period to talk about her dream to raise money for CF and make it more visible. The class was so inspired  they immediately started brainstorming ways they could help raise money for Cystic Fibrosis and the next day I was presented with a list from her classmates of ideas that they could do as a school to help her make her dream come true and raise both awareness and money. She had inspired and taught these students what it was like to live with CF so much so they all now are helping to plan an event that will be school wide for Sarah. She is now wanting to and we are preparing to present to the school so that she can make all of Ottawa Crescent Public School aware of this “hidden disease”.