For much of her young life, 12-year-old Madison Hooson spent many days at home, missing school and missing out on a quality of life every child deserves. As a way of dealing with her undiagnosed chronic pain, she began reading. Her love of books became her coping mechanism.
Madison was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease in November 2011 and was given a prescription to help ease the pain. But each time she would taper off the medications and her symptoms would quickly reappear. After much research and feeling frustrated over traditional treatment, her mother, Rebecca Kirstein, took her to Portland, Oregon for fecal transplants. The procedure was successful, but the treatment proved to be unsustainable: as Madison stopped daily treatment, her symptoms returned.
“It was all very frightening. One of my hardest times as a parent was watching her suffer and not being able to make it stop,” says Rebecca.
Last year, Madison was admitted to BC Children’s Hospital for what Rebecca recalls as a particularly scary moment. Madison suffered a severe flare-up and spent several months bedridden. After losing more than 25 pounds she was severely underweight and unable to keep food or water down for weeks. While in the hospital, she suffered an adverse reaction to the colonoscopy preparation and had to be sedated for further treatments and tests.
After a four-year battle with Crohn’s, doctors at BC Children’s Hospital found a medication that had the potential to rid Madison of pain once and for all. It worked: a mere month after beginning her new medication she was in remission.
Today, Madison is happy, healthy and full of energy. She loves to be outdoors, play music, board games and spend time with her friends and family. “She still loves to read, but reads much less often as she is now busy playing outside with her friends! I never thought I would be so happy to see my kid read less,” Rebecca says with a laugh.
Even though Madison is in remission, her family still travels from Victoria to BC Children’s Hospital in Vancouver every eight weeks for Madison to get the infusions and follow-up she needs; she will continue to be cared for by Children’s until she is an adult.
“We are constantly amazed at the tireless energy and support provided by all of the staff at BC Children’s Hospital,” says Rebecca. “Madison is always excited to visit and see all of her friends, despite having to undergo painful and scary procedures. We are eternally grateful for everything they have given us, and I can't imagine where we would be without the care and support we received.”
Madison will be featured this year as our 2015 Festival of Trees Victoria Champion.