“It was hard for my parents (and siblings) to watch their daughter be in pain and go through things they couldn’t help with,” Tanisha describes. At the age of fourteen, she was diagnosed with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS), a disease that weakens the body’s connective tissues. For her, it brought constant, chronic and often debilitating pain, endless medical appointments, and sleepless nights. Her new condition meant that she had to find her new normal for how she went about her days.
Tanisha’s parents were hopeful for a program that would brighten her future and came across Sunshine through another friend living with EDS. For the past 10 years, her family had concentrated on understanding Tanisha’s condition, helping her cope with her debilitating pain and frequent dislocations in order to get through her schooling. The idea of long-distance travel was simply not possible while she was navigating the early years of EDS.
Kym, Tanisha’s mom explains “As a parent of a child with a disability, with a chronic disease, you strive with everything in your power to make them happy and make their suffering less. Sometimes the dreams – you’re just not capable of giving them and Sunshine takes that on and gives them such a wonderful gift.”
Gaining the trust in herself and the confidence in her body’s abilities to be able to go on a trip was a big step - and Tanisha soon set her dream on reconnecting with her extended family and her Australian roots.
Just before the start of summer, Sunshine made the travel arrangements for Tanisha, her younger sister Abby and her parents to fly to Australia and stay with family for three weeks. The visit was a big surprise for her Australian kin. After landing, Tanisha reunited with her older sister whom she hadn’t seen in 1 ½ years and later surprised their Grandmother who hadn’t seen them since they were young kids. It was a special moment for Tanisha and her sisters. Throughout the remaining weeks, more and more family and friends connected with them and they spent their time going on walks, playing board games and reconnecting.
Tanisha keeps the photos and videos from her Sunshine dream experience close to her as a reminder of her strong support network in Canada and Australia. The communications she now exchanges with her family overseas is so much stronger and means all that much more to her as she continues to conquer the symptoms of her condition.
“I came back from Australia a whole new person. Being able to see my friends and family gave me strength and motivation to keep doing what I was doing. It was a breath of fresh air and confirmation I was doing everything right. They helped me look back and reflect on how much I’ve accomplished since my diagnosis and showed me that my struggle has a silver lining.”
Since her dream experience, Tanisha continues to strengthen her body as part of her required medical regime by keeping active and is currently living her passion by completing her internship as a paramedic student in Ontario. She affirms that her Sunshine Dream has helped make her “that much more hopeful for the next 10 years.”