BIBLE HILL – The smile on Breanna Stonehouse’s face showed her excitement.
The 10-year-old Bible Hill girl had just met with members of the Children’s Wish Foundation, who handed over all the tickets she needed for her and her family to go on a Disney Cruise.
“I’ve been working really hard to make sure I’m healthy,” said Breanna, a Grade 5 student, about why she was the recipient of a wish through the foundation.
It was eight years ago that Breanna was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis, a genetic disease affecting mainly the digestive system and lungs. For every meal, Breanna takes six tablets to help her digest her food. She also has to undergo lung therapy twice a day, to keep her lungs clear.
“She wasn’t really gaining any weight,” said Breanna’s mother, Shanda Lively, when talking about what lead up to the young girl’s diagnosis.
“She was in the low three percentile in her weight,” added her father, Joey Stonehouse.
The low weight is one of the key signs of cystic fibrosis, and at the time, Breanna’s babysitter had a daughter who also had cystic fibrosis.
“Breanna had a lot of the same signs as her daughter,” said Lively. “And when Breanna sweats, she sweats like a crystally-salt. When you kiss her and she’s sweaty, it’s really salty.”
It was last year when Breanna’s parents registered their daughter for the Children’s Wish Foundation, and the three family members, as well as Lively’s partner, Nathan Nickerson, left Feb. 24 to head to Florida to catch their cruise.
“I saw a cruise on YouTube and it looked so amazing,” said Breanna. “I said I want to be on one. I was thinking after I was told I had a wish, that I wish I could go on the Disney Cruise.”
With her smile still on her face, Breanna said she was mostly looking forward to the whole experience.
“I just want to go on a trip,” she said.
Growing up watching Disney movies, Breanna has a hard time picking out a favourite, but loves ‘Beauty and the Beast.’ She was hoping to meet Belle and Stitch, from ‘Lilo and Stitch’, while on the cruise.
During the cruise, the family will have the chance to go on a couple of excursions, and they planned on visiting the Mayan Ruins, going swimming with dolphins, and going on a submarine. If time permitted, parasailing was also on the agenda.
“I really want to see the tropical fish,” said Breanna, about the submarine ride.
Along with the six pills for her meals, Breanna takes three or four with snacks. She also consumes a D-drop daily, and a multi-vitamin every other day.
According to Cystic Fibrosis Canada, around one in every 3,600 children born in Canada has cystic fibrosis. Children inherit two defective copies of the responsible gene – one from each parent. Carriers of the gene – one in 25 Canadians – don’t have the disease, nor do they exhibit any symptoms.
Symptoms can include a persistent cough with thick mucus, wheezing and shortness of breath, and frequent chest infections, among others.
“When I’m running around a lot, I’ll get pain in my chest,” said Breanna. “When that happens, I just have to sit off to the side.”
Known to her friends as a ‘chatty box’ (according to her father), Breanna plays trumpet in the beginner band at her school. She loves music, singing, dancing, drawing, and eating. She spends time with her father outside on their side-by-side, and loves attending hockey games, including the Halifax Mooseheads, and target shooting at the rifle range.
For more information on cystic fibrosis, visit www.cysticfibrosis.ca. For more on the Children’s Wish Foundation, including making donations or upcoming events, visit www.childrenswish.ca. The Children’s Wish Foundation has entered its fourth decade in existence and recently granted its 25,000th wish.