At just 16-years-old, Alysha Dyck has already experienced more medical examinations, x-rays and surgeries than most people three times her age.
Fortunately, she’s had a strong collection of supporters the entire way, a group that includes friends, family and the Prince Albert Shrine Club.
When Alysha was diagnosed with Legg–Calvé–Perthes disease in 2016, neither she nor her parents were sure where to turn for help. A family member suggested they write a letter to the Shriners, who agreed to pay the necessary expenses so she could travel to Montreal for surgery. As a thank you, the family has begun looking for ways to support the club that was there when they didn’t know where else to turn.
“The Shriners were so helpful for us,” Alysha explained. “We just wanted to give back because they’ve been really supportive with this situation.”
“They took a weight right off our shoulders,” Alysha’s mother, Erin, added. “In return, we just want to do everything we can to give back to them. It won’t even compare to what they gave to us, but (it will) help future families.”
Alysha was playing volleyball in the fall of 2015 when she kept feeling sharp pains in her shins. Her parents assumed it was either growing pains or possibly shin splints. However, the pain eventually became so bad Alysha could barely sleep at night. Many evenings she would bed down for the night on the reclined, heated seats of the family car. It was the only place she could get comfortable.
“I was just wondering what it was?” she remembered. “Why me? Why did this happen? Is it ever going to get fixed? Stuff like that.”
It was only after extensive testing next summer that Alysha was diagnosed with Legg–Calvé–Perthes disease, a condition that occurs in childhood when blood supply to the hip joint is temporarily interrupted, causing the bone to weaken and gradually break apart.
At first, doctors gave them pain management strategies and told them to wait and see what happens. The family wanted a second opinion, but weren’t sure where to go or who they could turn to.
When one of Alysha’s uncle’s suggested the family write a letter to the Shrine Club they jumped at the opportunity. Soon after they learned they would be heading to the Shriner’s Hospital for Children in Montreal, with everything from hotels to meals to flights covered by the Prince Albert Shrine Club and the Wa Wa Shriners of Saskatchewan.
“It was such a relief for our family,” Erin said. “They gave us such peace of mind and really took a situation that was so scary and daunting, where we were not knowing what step to take, (and) they stepped in and did that for us.”
Thanks to that trip to Montreal, Alysha’s health is on the upside. Surgery has corrected the biggest problem, although she will eventually need another one this summer.
With her health improving, Alysha and her family have begun focusing on supporting the Shrine Club. Her father, Brad has organized 50/50 draws at work to raise money for the club, while many of Alysha’s extended family have begun asking well-wishers to send donations to the Shrine Club instead giving gifts on their birthdays.
For Shrine Club members, it’s an unexpected turn of events, but one they’re incredibly grateful for.
“(She’s a) brave young lady,” club president Stu Dawson said. “Just incredibly brave, with what she has gone through…. We’re just delighted we were able to help.”
“It’s just tremendous that they appreciate us so much that they want to give back,” past-president Harold Guy added.
The Dyck’s are especially grateful because Alysha’s case was so unique. Typically, patients suffering from Legg–Calvé–Perthes disease will feel pain in their upper leg or hip area, not below the knee. Regardless of how her condition develops or improves, the Shrine hospital doctors will continue to follow her progress until the age of 21.
Dawson said stories like Alysha’s make their fundraising efforts worthwhile, and give club members additional motivation when the going gets tough.
“It’s very heart-warming,” he said. “It really is.”