Turning Your Illness Into Good

11-Year-Old Girl Uses Her Remission As A Chance To Give Back

A four-year-old girl’s only worry should be what toy she will play with next or what to dress up as – unfortunately, this was not the case for Abigail Stewart. When Abigail was four, she spent a year fighting for her life in and out of the Children’s Hospital. Abigail was diagnosed with Multisystem Langerhans Histiocystosis – a condition that caused her white blood cells to eat away at her bones. This illness acts like cancer, and therefore was treated like cancer, with Abigail undergoing a year of chemotherapy and steroid treatment. Now 11-years-old, Abigail is in remission and wants to spend her newfound energy on being the 2018 Children’s Hospital Foundation of Manitoba Champion Child, presented by Walmart.

When Abigail first began to feel ill, her mom, Ashley, said the family originally thought a trip to the doctor’s office would be routine.

“I took her to the doctor for a bump on her head a couple of time, but kids get bumps on their heads,” Ashley said. “The second time her eye drooped, and by the third and fourth times, the doctor worried it was more serious. They did an x-ray and the bump on her head was actually a three-inch tumour.”

Over the years, Abigail has received continued care from the Children’s Hospital, including numerous procedures to repair steroid treatment damage, as well as getting fitted for a leg brace to help her walk.

Abigail was first inspired to get involved with the Children’s Hospital Foundation when she heard the 2013/14 Champion Child, Ryan Veldkamp, share his story.

For the next year, Abigail will represent Manitoba and be an ambassador for the 120,000 children who visit the Children’s Hospital every year. In March, Abigail will travel to Ottawa to meet other Champions from across North America and then on to Disney World. There she will celebrate her achievements, and meet with international media, to help showcase what an amazing hospital and research institute we have here in Manitoba. On top of this, Abigail has set a goal to raise money to support the unit that saved her life, the Pediatric Oncology Unit.

The Champions program, run by the Children’s Hospital Foundation of Manitoba, honours remarkable children who have triumphed despite severe medical challenges. For over 11 years, Walmart Canada and the Air Canada Foundation have been incredible supporters.

Click here to support Abigail’s fundraising.