Meet Brittney, Our 2011/12 Champion Child
When Brittney Fox was three years old she didn’t ask Santa for a baby doll or a princess outfit for Christmas. All she wished for was to go home.
For the first few years of Brittney’s life, her days were spent inside the walls of a hospital hooked up to IVs and a gastronomy tube, surrounded by doctors and nurses at Children’s Hospital in Winnipeg.
At 11 months old, Brittney was diagnosed with a condition called Cystic Hygroma, a life-threatening tumour. The tumour started in her stomach and worked its way up to her throat, paralyzing everything on her left side, including her vocal chords.
By the time Brittney was three years old, she had become a full-time resident of Children’s Hospital. She was oxygen dependent, couldn’t talk because of her blocked airways, and was attached to so many tubes and poles that she couldn’t walk, let alone run and play like other kids her age.
Brittney faced big challenges during her time at Children’s Hospital, but remembers that the doctors and nurses who cared for her always tried to make sure that she could be a kid. “I remember people coming to my room to play games with me, and playing Bingo through the TV,” says Brittney. “I remember it was fun.” says Brittney.
Although Brittney wasn’t able to go home for several years after first being admitted, she grew up feeling that sense of home that she needed through the love and care she received. “The doctors and nurses were always there for me,” she says.
Today, Brittney is 17 years old and has not had to be hospitalized regularly for several years.
She is left with a large visible scar across her neck due to the repeated surgeries that she has had to endure, and her voice has been drastically altered, making it sound hoarse and congested.
“Children’s Hospital has always been one place where people have always seen me as a beautiful person. Everywhere else I go, I am judged by my visible scars and my voice –things that I can never change,” says Brittney.
Brittney is doing much better today, although she still faces health difficulties. Her condition will be a continuous challenge, but Brittney says it has helped her grow into a stronger person.
“Even though I face day-to-day challenges, I am proud of everything I’ve been through. Every scar on my body has its own story and holds its own place in my history,” says Brittney.
Not a day has gone by that Brittney hasn’t relied on the doctors and nurses at the Children’s Hospital and she is extremely thankful for the second chance she has been given to live her dreams and to continue carving out her own history, which now includes being able to make a difference in someone else’s life.
As the newly named Champion Child (presented by Walmart), Brittney will become an advocate for child health in the coming year to help raise funds for kids like her, and the ones that are still too sick to leave the hospital.
Champions is a Children’s Miracle Network program presented by Walmart that honours remarkable children who have triumphed despite severe medical challenges. For their courage and perseverance, these children have been selected as international ambassadors for the 17 million kids treated each year at children’s hospitals supported by Children’s Miracle Network.