A Ladysmith woman is making a heartfelt plea to BC’s Health Minister, to fund the out-of-country surgery she considers her only chance at life.
34-year-old Sarah Gontarek was once a vibrant runner, thriving massage therapist and wife, but has lost everything she loved since a neck injury that’s left her bedridden and fearing she could die at any time from stroke.
At 34, Sarah Gontarek wants to believe she still has a full vibrant life ahead of her.
“But this is exactly how I spend the majority of my day,” she says laying on her side in bed.
Increasingly bedridden from a debilitating neck injury that’s cost her her registered massage therapy business, her marriage, home and mobility, her positive outlook is a little shaken.
“I used to work five to six days a week, I was happy everyday, I enjoyed everyday to the fullest and now it’s affected my whole life,” says Gontarek. “I’ve had to move in with my parents now I can’t take care of myself. I had to sell my home because I can’t take of anything on my own anymore.”
Her injury, that can be seen in 3d x-ray, she says happened after a chiropractic adjustment in July 2014. It has now progressed to take most of the use of her legs, even her ability to sit up for periods time, because of light headedness and pain caused by shifting vertebrae in her neck cutting off her blood supply.
“It’s the scariest thing because you don’t know if you’re going to live or you’re gonna die,” says Gontarek.
She’s found a neurosurgeon is Florida that has successfully performed surgeries on cases like hers though.
“I was like screaming yeah I’m gonna get my life back again, everything’s gonna go back to normal,” says Gontarek.
Until she learned Friday that BC’s Ministry of Health has denied her application for coverage of the $90,000 surgery she sees as her only way out. Saying they considered the surgery experimental.
“So when they said no it felt like any chance of my independence is gone,” says Gontarek.
“To see a young woman of her age, her potential and everything she has to contribute just be taken away is heartbreaking” says her friend Cheryl Endicott.
“I cried, I cried a lot,” says Gontarek.
Then her family and friends helped her pack. She’s headed to Florida Tuesday for the neurosurgery, and is literally going for broke and going deep into debt to try to get her life back.
“I don’t have any other options right now it’s either live like this for the rest of my life or do a high risk surgery,” says Gontarek.
She’s praying the health minister will reconsider after hearing her story and seeing the high cost she’s paying everyday without surgery.