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Jacquie’s Path to Resilience, Antifragility and Gratitude

By May 21, 2024Moments

If you are looking for a source of inspiration for resilience, antifragility, and gratitude, Jacquie is a leading example. For several years, Classic LifeCare has been providing Jacquie with transportation services. While residing in Victoria on Vancouver Island, she frequently travels to Vancouver for her medical appointments at Changepain Clinic. Despite facing considerable adversity for 23 years now, Jacquie lives with a realistic, positive outlook and a compassionate heart.


Early Lessons in Resilience and Gratitude

Jacquie’s early years were filled with profound memories. Born in Vernon BC, she shared a close bond with her father, mother, and sister who was two years her elder. They were a very tight-knit family, with her father working as a Forest Ranger while her mother stayed at home caring for their two girls. Life was good and they lived a healthy, outdoor lifestyle.

Jacquie’s lessons in resilience, compassion, and gratitude began at the tender age of 3. The family faced adversity when her father contracted Polio after a work trip, significantly disrupting their lives.

Transported urgently to Vancouver General Hospital (VGH), her father’s treatment required him to stay in Vancouver. Jacquie’s mother stood by her husband’s side in Vancouver, securing a job as a hairdresser at VGH to ensure regular visits. They organized childcare for Jacquie and her sister during the week, but the absence of their parents was difficult. Jacquie shares “That healthy outdoor lifestyle changed on a dime and became something contrastingly different; a challenge for us all!”

From this early age, Jacquie learned to navigate obstacles as best she could. Reflecting on her childhood experiences, she shares, Adversity provides an opportunity for learning and discovering the most meaningful aspects of life.


Drawing Inspiration From Her Father & Mother

Jacquie praises her parents for being the best role models in her life. She speaks proudly of both her parents’ enduring love for each other, strength, and determination despite the adversity they faced. Afflicted with Polio in 1953, her father was paralyzed from his neck down, unable to breathe on his own. For many months in an Iron Lung at VGH, eye movements were his only form of communication.

Eventually, Jacquie’s father was transferred to GF Strong in Vancouver, where he was determined to regain his strength. Against all odds and with valuable physio assistance, he built enough muscle strength in his back, arms, and hands to reach his best functional level. Breathing independently, he lived the rest of his life in a wheelchair as a paraplegic. Given Jacquie’s young age, she shares, I have no memory of him walking BUT I always saw him as “sitting/rolling tall” in his wheelchair!

Photo: Jacquie with her family after her father was released from hospital in 1955


New Opportunities in Victoria for Jacquie’s Family

Relocating to Victoria, her father secured an office job in Data Entry with the Pacific Forest Research Centre. Defeating many obstacles, he went on to have an esteemed career as an Entomology Technician with his own research lab built to accommodate his physical and wheelchair needs. His most significant achievements involved co-authoring (with various Entomologists), multiple influential papers on the reproductive systems of mountain pine beetle, which continue to be valuable resources today.

Jacquie recounts: “One of my favourite memories was attending my father’s retirement party. I loved listening to the tributes and acknowledgments from his colleagues for not only my father BUT for my mother as well.”

Photo: Top right: Jacquie’s mother and father at his retirement party. Bottom right: Jacquie’s father working at his research lab.


Jacquie Embarks on Her Own Career Path

Following in her father’s footsteps, Jacquie carved her own respected career path. For as long as Jacquie can remember, she was fascinated by anatomy and physiology and aspired to be a Nurse. She completed her RN training at the Vancouver General Hospital while her mother pursued a Nursing degree in Victoria. Interestingly, both graduated on the same day, Jacquie as an RN and her mother as an LPN.

Jacquie furthered her education at a postgraduate level, specializing in Critical Care. She enjoyed a rewarding 40-year career as a Critical Care Nurse Educator in a variety of acute healthcare settings and roles, both nationally and internationally.


Jacquie’s Gratitude and Resilience Through Stevens-Johnson Syndrome

In 2002, Jacquie confronted another significant life hurdle when she experienced a “work-related” rare allergic reaction, leading to a diagnosis of Stevens-Johnson Syndrome (SJS). This diagnosis abruptly brought her career to an untimely end, limiting her capacity to manage her household and drive. Subsequently, she went on to develop secondary complications to the original diagnosis of SJS. Today, Complex Regional Pain Syndrome is the main challenging issue compromising her quality of life with persistent neuropathic burning pain in her hands, face, and throat. This has limited her ability to eat orally and speak comfortably.

Jacquie found herself back at VGH, this time not as a nurse but as a patient, marking a profound shift in her life’s journey. After years of many ineffective treatment trials, Jacquie learned, accepted, and owned the fact that her main hope was to optimize her quality of life. Despite her persistent pain, she actively embraced educational opportunities and continued expanding her knowledge. Her goal was to continue learning, developing, and practically applying her own “toolbox set of self-pain management skills.”

With clarity, Jacquie states that she is now “Oh so much more than her pain, even on my worst days!”
She attributes her transferable skills gained from years of nursing to her desire to take charge of her own meaningful happiness in life. As the saying goes, “Time is a great healer.”


Overcoming Pain with Grace

In November 2020, Jacquie was transferred to the Changepain Clinic in Vancouver from the St Paul’s Pain Clinic. Here, she receives interventional medication infusions every 4-5 weeks which reduces her persistent pain levels. Jacquie states “I firmly believe that I am greater than my pain by giving my best effort every day. Simply breathing is enough.” Despite cohabitating with persistent pain daily, Jacquie’s remarkable positivity, grace, and gratitude shine through!

Jacquie provides words of wisdom, “Bitterness gets you nowhere; it’s important to learn how to truly be grateful and kind, even when facing challenges. I continuously strive to be my “authentic self”. I try to live in each moment and practice deep focused self-awareness and self-compassion”.


Finding Comfort in Classic LifeCare’s Support

Classic LifeCare has been providing Jacquie with medical transportation services for the past 3 years. She praises the staff for their professionalism and support to and from her appointments.

“My treatments are for 8 hours and are difficult on my body and energy levels. When the infusion treatment is finished, I do experience the benefits for sure but also experience varying levels of the medication side effects. I may feel nauseated, struggle to maintain my balance, and sometimes feel so weak and overwhelmingly incapable of being on my own. The presence and assistance of the Classic LifeCare medical escorts make me feel seen and supported when I am most vulnerable. While lending a caring arm and voice for support seems like a simple gesture, it means so much to me at that moment. Sensing their compassionate care makes me feel safe and secure. These folks are so down to earth, skilled and comforting; they listen which reassures me” Jacquie shares gratefully.

Khushbu, a Client Care Coordinator at Classic LifeCare Vancouver, manages Jacquie’s care schedule. Jacquie acknowledges Khushbu’s crucial role in ensuring a smooth transition after her treatments.

“Following my treatments, my priority is safely reaching my bed to rest! Khushbu’s proactive organization and communication skills alleviate any concerns I have. I deeply appreciate her ability to resolve issues quickly with a team approach, ensuring I’m never left without support.” Jacquie adds.


Embracing Gratitude, Self-Care, and Compassion in Life

Growing up, Jacquie observed her mother’s devoted care for her father, leading her to believe that such selfless dedication was the norm. Through various life stages, she found herself excessively caring for others while neglecting her own well-being and self-esteem. Jacquie explains, “One of my proudest achievements in life was recognizing that I needed some help which changed my mindset and outlook on life. Fortunately, this effective help came before 2002, when my career came to an untimely finish. This provided me with the basic foundation of how I handled and managed the subsequent chapter of my life.”

Jacquie radiates gratitude daily and demonstrates a compassionate heart. She is actively engaged in volunteer work, fundraising for many years, and helping others in need. To this day, she searches for creative ways to help others. Jacquie adds, “It is called “paying it forward” and further cultivates a deepening and balanced sense of my humility, care, and compassion for others and our world… but no longer at the expense of myself. That is the key to my valued inner balance and contentment.”

Photo: Jacquie making the most of her life in Victoria

Living a Life of Gratitude

When asked what brings her joy as well as some pain relief in her daily life, Jacquie responds, “I love and value my Taoist Tai Chi practice, walking, music, reading, connecting with my sister, nephew, friends, and helping others”.

Jacquie shares a poem called “Gratitude” by Melody Beattie that resonates dearly with her as one of her main “self-help tools”. This poem helped her to realize that “less is more” when measuring her quality of life now!


~ Gratitude ~

by Melodie Beatty

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life.

It turns what we have into enough, and more.

It turns denial into acceptance,

chaos to order,

confusion to clarity.

It can turn a meal into a feast,

a house into a home,

a stranger into a friend.

Gratitude makes sense of our past,

brings peace for today,

and creates a vision for tomorrow.