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

 

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

Kelowna DJs organize own shows to fill gap in music scene

The DJs wanted to create somewhere people could enjoy their music safely

Rediscover Rutland: There’s never a dull moment in the neighbourhood

Laurel D’Andrea, with URBA, is sharing a few upcoming events

Kelowna budget carryovers won’t add to taxation demand

Council’s carryover budget requests will advance work for the city

Warm temperatures here to stay in Kelowna

Spring has finally sprung in the Central Okanagan

Kelowna welcomes building permit applications for “earth homes”

Kelowna welcomes carriage and container “earth homes” when mandatory inspections are completed

Defiant vigil starts healing in New Zealand after massacre

Police say the gunman in the shooting that killed 50 acted alone

Horvat scores 16 seconds into OT as Canucks beat Blackhawks 3-2

Pettersson sets rookie scoring record for Vancouver

No injuries, pollution in Vancouver Harbour ship collision: Transport Canada

Transportation Safety Board says it has deployed a team of investigators look into the incident

Budget 2019: Five things to watch for in the Liberals’ final fiscal blueprint

Finance Minister Bill Morneau will release the Trudeau government’s final budget on Tuesday

New concussion guidelines launched for Canada’s Olympians, Paralympians

The guidelines will be in effect at this summer’s Pan American, Parapan American Games in Lima, Peru

In Photos: Classic snowmobiles pushed to their limits in fun races

The Burner in Malakwa served as the venue for races show cases older sleds

Alphonso Davies doubtful for Canada game against French Guiana in Vancouver

Canada will be without injured captain Scott Arfield and veteran Will Johnson

Okanagan organization helps provide water for all in Nepal

Presentation shares success of project at Okanagan Science Centre March 27

Most Read