Living life as her true self

Living life as her true self

For Penny from rural Saskatchewan, being her true self has been a lifelong journey. As someone with a mysterious auto-immune disease that was given a prognosis of approximately 10 years, Penny knows the urgency and necessity of accessible healthcare for all Canadians.

Penny’s doctors discovered her terminal illness when she was 18. After doctors in Saskatchewan treated a sports-related injury, they discovered something more. Penny was diagnosed with an auto-immune condition that causes chronic muscle tissue loss, severe muscle spasms akin to multiple sclerosis, and intense, chronic pain. “The pain felt like falling down the stairs, twenty-four hours a day,” Penny says. It was unexpected that Penny would survive long enough to reach her forties.

Despite all of this, Penny applied her curiosity for medical science to find a solution. There was an underlying issue that she thought might help relieve the mental distress caused by her condition, which would eventually leave her unable to walk, “My whole life I’ve always thought and felt like a girl,” Penny explains. After a long and difficult journey trying to find support within her community, Penny was given estrogen. To her surprise, the estrogen eased her muscle spasms and chronic pain. In 2022, she felt that the next necessary step would be to undergo gender reassignment surgery. This surgery would let her live with more ease and allow her to manage the difficulties presented by her illness.

Penny first heard about Hope Air from her doctor’s office. She remembered the organization for a long time, but it wasn’t until 2022 that Penny would fly with Hope Air.

Penny is an active member of her provincial Pride movement, and a vocal supporter of Hope Air’s mission to reach Canadians in need.
Roger and his wife Susie are from Northern Ontario, a nearly thirteen-hour drive from the hospital Roger would have to reach for his compartment syndrome surgery in Hamilton, Ontario. Roger lives near Kapuskasing, Ontario, with his wife Susie. His symptoms first began 15 years ago, with intense pressure and pain in his legs and arms that was accompanied by swelling.

After visiting several doctors near his home and in Thunder Bay, Roger was diagnosed with compartment syndrome, a condition where his muscles expanded as if he had done strenuous exercise. Compartment syndrome is a rare condition where, untreated, causes nerve damage, amputation, loss of muscle function, and kidney failure, among other consequences. Doctors did not know what caused Roger’s condition, but knew that it needed urgent medical intervention.

We acknowledge that we live and work on the unceded, traditional territories of many Indigenous peoples. We are grateful for the privilege of being on lands that these peoples have nurtured since time immemorial.