Profiles of Hope
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sylasIn 2013, Marla and her family began a medical odyssey. Her 18-month-old son Sylas was not growing and had no energy. He was constantly vomiting and having diarrhea. Blood work and tests provided no answers.

Travelling to Vancouver for assessments became routine for the Kamloops family. The first possibility was leukemia, so they were fast-tracked into oncology testing. When that was ruled out, gastroenterology was next, then genetics. It was a scary time for the family, and they still had no diagnosis.

Every two months, Sylas and mom Marla would make the four-hour car trip. Each trip would take them away from home for at least two days. When Sylas’s little sister joined the family, they needed to bring along Marla’s mother to look after the baby so that Marla could focus on the appointments. The trips were costly and exhausting.

They were staying at Easter Seals House on one of those many trips, when another mother told them about Hope Air. “It was life-changing,” says Marla. “It was amazing to be able to fly down and come home the same day.”

Even with the support, it was a difficult time. At age three, Sylas still weighed only 20 pounds, and it wasn’t until age four that they finally had a diagnosis — eosinophilic esophagitis, typically shortened to “EE,” an inflammatory condition of the esophagus caused by food allergies.

Thankfully, Sylas is finally doing better. The family has moved to Prince George, and he’s starting kindergarten. “He’s trying hard, because he wants to play with the other kids. We still have a long road ahead, but we’re moving forward.”

The family still goes to Vancouver once a year for follow-ups. They now have two young daughters, so travelling by car would be even more complicated and costly, but Hope Air is there for them. “Hope Air has alleviated so much stress on our family,” said Marla. “I can concentrate on what really matters.”

Recently, their daughter won the opportunity from CN to make a donation to the charity of her choice, and there was no hesitation about where the money would go. “I am so thankful for the help that Hope Air has given us. They have done so much for us, and we finally have the chance to give back,” Marla says.