Cheerfu Miki Mann lives a full life of exercise, theatre and quilting despite contending with painful post-polio syndrome. (Barb Brouwer/Salmon Arm Observer)

Shuswap residents share good reasons for immunization

Two families dealing with debilitating diseases offer stories of fear and pain

As measles outbreaks in Vancouver and Washington State have ramped up the vaccination debate, two Salmon Arm residents offer compelling reasons for supporting a program of immunization.

Kim Lahti-Scranton lives with fear every day.

Her seven-year-old daughter, Jane, was diagnosed with cancer when she was five. The drugs that have kept her alive have also wiped out her immune system. A disease like measles could kill her.

“If she could live with and beat cancer for two-and-a-half years and then die from measles, I would never get over it; there would be so much anger,” she says. “I am consumed by fear and the only thing that will get rid of that is grief. And I don’t want that.”

Read more: Fundraisers to help child with cancer

Lahti-Scranton, who chose to have her three children vaccinated, says Jane’s immunity is so compromised that other communicable diseases such as the flu and common cold are a concern.

Every day, Jane’s teacher let’s Lahti-Scranton know if children in the class are ill – how many and with what. She then has to decide whether Jane will go to school, based on her white blood cell counts and how she feels. And sending her to school scares her because she doesn’t know what Jane will be exposed to.

She is grateful that some of Jane’s classmates overcame their fear of needles to get flu shots, but frustrated that so many choose not to vaccinate their children.

Read more: Shuswap bottle drive to support pediatric cancer research

“I have two science degrees and I trust the people who have saved Jane and who tell us to be immunized,” she says, knocking social media where she says some people pick up and feed on misinformation. “It’s frustrating that they base their decisions on something that may not be true.”

Miki Mann was born before there were many vaccines available.

A few months before her fifth birthday, she contracted polio and spent a few terrifying months in a Kelowna hospital.

“They put me in a room all by myself, without toys, and people would come in being masked and poked at you,” she says. “They had yellow paper gowns; they looked like scary things, like monsters. All you could see were eyes. It’s amazing how someone’s eyes could be so scary.”

When Mann returned home, the family bought her a blue budgie named Lucky because she was. Just prior to her return, another little girl on her street died of the disease.

“Fortunately I didn’t have to be in an iron lung because the virus affected me below the waist and only on one side,” said Mann who remembers screaming as her father made her perform the painful prescribed physio exercises on her damaged right leg.

Read more: Philippines says 136 people have died in measles outbreak

“I’ve always had a slight disability, there’s no muscle in the lower part of my leg basically; it’s there, it’s just useless,” she says, pointing out she couldn’t do sports like other kids and instead, gained an appreciation for reading, music and dance.

But polio was not done with Mann yet. A few years ago, she began suffering from extreme fatigue, a mystery until she read an article about post polio syndrome – a condition which can include progressive muscle atrophy, joint weakness and pain.

“What scares me so much is people are ignoring this. As long as there is one case of polio in the world it can easily grow into an epidemic,” she says, noting scientists have debunked the notion that immunizations cause autism. “As a parent, would you not do everything you possibly could to protect your children?”

Mann, who goes to regular exercise classes in and out of the pool, belongs to a theatre group, quilts and does a lot more, has a sunny view of life and says polio survivors are type A personalities.

Interior Health’s Lorena Hiscoe, corporate director of population health services, says vaccines are the most effective way to prevent contagious diseases like measles.

“Getting immunized not only protects those receiving the vaccine, but protects others such as infants who are too young to be immunized and people who are immunocompromised,” she says, noting getting out accurate information about the effectiveness and safety of vaccines, and correcting the misinformation that continues to circulate are a priority.


@SalmonArm
barb.brouwer@saobserver.net

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Then seven-year-old Miki Mann, with her five-year-old sister Shirley Jean, sports a cast following “another failed surgery” to fix the leg that polio attacked when she was four. (Photo contributed)

Just Posted

South Okanagan real estate market adjusting to ‘new normal’

Numbers are up in March; however, industry insiders say the market has cooled

Serious assault leaves Osoyoos woman in critical condition: RCMP

A 60-year-old Osoyoos woman suffers life threatening injuries following assault inside home

Not all receive COVID-19 aid from federal government

Summerland woman does not qualify for federal assistance during COVID-19 pandemic

Pair of Penticton Vees forwards eye NHL Entry Draft

Danny Weight and Ryan McGuire included in Central Scouting’s final draft rankings

Law enforcement will patrol shuttered campgrounds in Cascades this weekend

Patrols will enforce provincial order requiring all such facilities remain closed during COVID-19

COVID-19 death toll reaches 50 in B.C., while daily case count steadies

B.C. records 34 new cases in the province, bringing total active confirmed cases to 462

Public warned to stay away from algae bloom near Herald Park in Shuswap Lake

Interior Health states that people, pets should not drink the water in the area or touch the algae

B.C. unveils $5M for mental health supports during the COVID-19 pandemic

Will include virtual clinics and resources for British Columbians, including front-line workers

South Shuswap residents criticize upgrades to Balmoral Road/Highway 1 intersection

Reliance on frontage roads and narrow underpasses near Blind Bay not good enough

B.C.’s COVID-19 rent supplement starts taking applications

$300 to $500 to landlords for April, May and June if eligible

COVID-19: No more international flights at Kelowna International Airport

All international flights at YLW have been suspended, airport to operate just nine flights a day

B.C.’s top doctor details prescription for safe long weekend

Yes, it includes hosting an online cooking show

BC SPCA seeks help for abandoned German shepherd puppies

Donations have ‘petered out’ as doors are closed due to COVID-19

Reality TV show about bodybuilders still filming in Okanagan amid COVID-19

Five bodybuilders from across the country flew to Kelowna to move into a house for a reality TV show

Most Read