Since childhood, Sabrina has lived with chronic and worsening pain. When her symptoms reached a point that made medical travel far too challenging, Hope Air became her partner in care, helping her to reach her vital appointments.
At just seven years old, Sabrina started experiencing uncomfortable bladder infection symptoms. The pain would come and go but there was never an infection detected.
For many years, Sabrina looked for answers but went undiagnosed—until age 20 when her pain became unbearable.
Sabrina’s medical team performed a series of tests. At last, she received a diagnosis: interstitial cystitis. This rare, chronic condition causes the bladder wall to become inflamed and irritated, leading to severe pelvic pain as well as a frequent and urgent need to urinate. The condition is usually diagnosed in adults, so the fact that Sabrina first began experiencing symptoms at such a young age makes her case even more rare.
With a firm diagnosis, Sabrina was finally able to seek treatment for her condition. But living in a small town in Northern Ontario, she was unable to access the care she needed close to home. She had no choice but to regularly make the more than six-hour drive from the Greater Sudbury Area to Toronto and, later, Hamilton.
“Finding out that I had to travel to and from Southern Ontario created emotional turmoil,” says Sabrina who also has Generalized Anxiety Disorder. “Sitting for extended periods caused me severe pain and stress.”
Sabrina also needed support on the long drives and had her mother travel with her. She was grateful for the companionship but felt bad about the amount of time required for her trips. It left both women with no choice but to miss precious time at work and with their loved ones.
As time went on, the long drives became more and more challenging for Sabrina. She would spend days recovering in bed after her painful trips. She needed a better option. So, she turned to Google and found Hope Air. Right away, she reached out for support getting to her long-distance appointments. And for her trips to Hamilton, in particular, she was connected with our Volunteer Pilot Program.
Sabrina says, “I was absolutely ecstatic knowing that I was going straight from Sudbury to Hamilton. The fact that my mom and I would be able to go to my appointment and come right home was a relief because we would be able to return to our normal jobs and lives much more quickly.”
Volunteer Pilots John and Sushee have both supported Sabrina by donating their personal aircrafts and their time. They have helped get her to her appointments on time and always go above and beyond to make sure she is comfortable. Like all our Volunteer Pilots, they understand that medical travel can be stressful for patients and they work hard to limit negative experiences and help put people like Sabrina at ease.
“I could tell that Sabrina was understandably quite anxious about her medical situation. But she really relaxed and enjoyed the flight. The weather was perfect and the scenery was great and we were able to chat the whole trip and help keep her mind off the situation,” says John about his first trip with Sabrina.
Sabrina has had six surgeries and countless procedures and her health journey is ongoing. She still travels every three months for appointments. But she has peace of mind knowing she has a way to get to her much-needed care. That’s because Hope Air will continue to be there, helping her access healthcare and get more out of life by limiting her days spent travelling.
She says, “I want to thank the Volunteer Pilots for making me feel safe and cared for. I am full of gratitude because the support from this organization is helping me to stay strong and healthy. It truly created hope in my life.”