October 8, 2020

Step forward for youth mental health this October

This October you can step forward for youth mental health in Saskatchewan during the RBC Race for the Kids. The virtual race weekend is set for Oct. 17 and 18 and you can register today for free.

No matter where you live, you can pledge to participate to run or walk over the event weekend to support critical youth mental health initiatives in Saskatchewan through Jim Pattison Children’s Hospital Foundation.

COVID-19 means this year’s race couldn’t happen in person, but the need from charities, particularly for those focused on youth mental health is greater than ever, so RBC adapted and is going global and virtual with their event. Jim Pattison Children’s Hospital Foundation joins 35 other youth charities in over 16 countries in this year’s RBC Race for the Kids.

You can walk or run to help Saskatchewan children just like Torrie, who face each day with serious medical conditions, which can, in turn, impact their mental health.

In 2016, Torrie of Balcarres, Sask. received a shocking diagnosis of a rare blood disease at just nine years old. Two weeks before her shocking diagnosis, Torrie started to notice some unusual symptoms. She was admitted to hospital in Regina with a low platelet count, and soon after had no platelet count at all. The provincial Pediatric Transport Team rushed to airlift her to Saskatoon’s Pediatric Intensive Care Unit. Torrie was soon diagnosed with Thrombotic Thrombocytopenic Purpura (TTP) Autoimmune Blood Disease, which can be fatal if not treated right away.

Before she knew it, Torrie went from a young dance and cheerleading competitor to in the hospital, learning to cope with the diagnosis, along with all the treatments required to save her life.

Torrie would later be diagnosed with illness anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) by a child and adolescent psychiatrist. It was also recommended that Torrie see a counsellor, which took around six months for the right resources to be in place. Eventually, Torrie was connected with a counsellor in Fort Qu’Appelle, but it took another six months for her to build a relationship and confide in her counsellor.

“When people hear that a child has an illness or disease, everyone focuses on that, but they don’t realize or know what goes on behind the scene with their mental health,” said Torrie’s mom Darci.

Torrie’s story took another shocking turn in early 2020 when she was diagnosed with lupus, a chronic, autoimmune disease characterized by inflammation in one or more parts of the body. Now not only was Torrie navigating through a rare blood disease, but she had another serious condition to digest and figured out how to live with.

By spring, Torrie was learning to adapt to her new diagnosis and was receiving regular counselling, but unfortunately, COVID-19 halted that and within a month, Torrie was feeling the impact.

“Torrie would get upset, wanting to talk to her counsellor. It was heartbreaking and had me in tears because I could not help her the way the counsellor could,” said Darci.

Today, Torrie’s family continues to have open communication to support her the best they can. Torrie is very relieved to have since returned to her counsellor, which has become a great source of support in her mental health journey.

You can help make a difference by signing up to walk, jog, run or wheel 2.5km, 5km, 10km or you can select your own distance to get active and raise funds to support Saskatchewan kids and teens, just like Torrie.

For more information on mental health resources and support services available, please visit saskatchewan.ca.

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