Kimberley woman asks for community support

Mystery illness has been stumping doctors for eight months

Susan Ryan has lived in Kimberley for 25 years. She’s done a lot of volunteer work and been involved in the community. And now she finds herself in a position where she could use some support herself.

It started as a cold early last winter, Ryan says.

“At first they thought it was pneumonia, but not a typical one. From there they went to not knowing. Then they thought cancer. I had 24 biopsies on my lung. It’s a tumour, but it’s not cancer. It’s getting smaller in one place and bigger in another. It’s causing scar tissue in my lung. It’s caused my body to swell up. They think it’s masking something else going on, but they don’t know what it is. My doctors tell me, it’s not typical, you’re unique.”

She was in emergency last week, thinking she might be suffering a heart attack and the ER doctor said she needed extensive heart testing.

“Right now I’m in limbo. I’m hoping in the next week and a half or so to have some answers.”

The uncertainty is wearing on Ryan, as is the cost of her long illness.

“I’m asking for support from the community. I volunteered at the Pines for 14 years, in the schools. I have been involved in my town for a long time. I never thought I’d be the one needing help, but it is what it is. It’s been eight months now. I’m trying to keep a happy face.

“I don’t have benefits. My last bout of medication was $500 and it didn’t work for me.”

In the meantime, Ryan says she’s finding out all about the health care system and how it works.

“It’s frustrating at times. You have to wait for results from one test before they can refer you to another specialist. You feel for people in the same situation. I’ve learned a lot from people just sitting in waiting rooms.

“I’ve never been so sick in my life. I’ve never before had to have people do things for me, help me shower. You have to swallow your pride, humble yourself.”

A trust fund for Susan Ryan has been set up at Kootenay Savings Credit Union and there will be a garage sale on September 19 to raise funds. If you can donate items for the garage sale, call Susan at 250-427-7602 or Karen at 250-427-4937.