I first met Shauna Wright at the Albion Boxing Club, where I had gone in search of a story. She didn’t say much with her lips, but the punches she threw in the ring told a lot about her character.
“She’s a tough little girl,” Barry Sponagle told me one day as we both watched her spar in preparation for junior nationals, where the previous year she had won bronze. Her heart was set on gold this time around.
A lot has changed since then, but Shauna’s still proving she’s a fighter.
In the fall of 2011, Tammy got the call at home from an RCMP officer that no parent wants to hear. Her teenage daughter Shauna had been in a car accident. The details given her were few, but as she drove past the Country Market in Thorburn on her way to the hospital she saw the ambulances and fire trucks who had responded to the scene where her daughter’s car left the road and crashed.
“Oh that’s bad,” she said.
And it was. For the first week, she says they didn’t even know if Shauna was going to live. Perhaps if it hadn’t been for the years of training at the boxing club, she might not have.
“Honestly I don’t think she would have made it if she hadn’t been as tough as what she was,” Tammy says.
Holding out hope even when the doctors told them there was little, Shauna’s parents saw her continue to improve. After two months she began to come out of the coma, but progress was slow.
“It’s not like on TV,” Tammy explains. “You don’t just wake up. Everything was in gradual stages. We would just get so excited at each new stage.”
A thumbs up and a squeeze of the hand were precious signs to her that her daughter was still fighting inside her broken body.
As she continued to improve, they’d bring out flash cards with letters or numbers to see what she remembered. She had to learn to speak all over again.
“At first it would take her six tries to make a hum noise.” Tammy said. “She used to carry around a letter box to spell things out.”
Finally after eight months in Halifax she was able to return home.
Life is different now. She uses a wheelchair, still has some difficulty speaking and undergoes various forms of physical therapy, but she is back at school and trying to get her life back.
“She’s done better than they had expected her to do,” Tammy said. “She works hard at everything.”
A new hope
The Wright’s are hoping to continue the improvement now with a form of treatment called hyperbatic oxygen therapy (HBOT). The way it works is a person goes inside a chamber where the air pressure is increased and the oxygen level increased. It’s a form of treatment that’s been proven to work for everything from bone infections to thermal burns. While not recognized by the department of health as one of the situations where HBOT treatments are proven to work, the Wrights have found numerous accounts of people who have seen improvement after brain injury after using it.
March 8, Shauna and her mother and grandmother will head to Ontario to go to a private clinic where she will undergo the treatment. They’ve been told that most people see improvement in the first 10 and 40 times in the chamber. Some even see improvement in the first two or three. They know though there is a chance they might be no improvement, but are optimistic that they’ll be some improvement.
“We’re just hoping we get one thing out of it or maybe a little bit of help,” Tammy said. “I know for Shauna she wants it to help her walk.”
The community has continued to help as they have in the past for Shauna. Orders were made for a ham dinner and tickets sold on an Easter basket. Tax deductible donations can also be made through the Jessica Foundation a charity set up by the clinic for these treatments.
If it does show any improvements, the family hopes to go back in July for more treatments.
For Shauna, this is a way to keep up the fight.
“She wishes it was tomorrow,” Tammy said. “Every day she’s asking how many days until we go.”
Those who would like to know more about the treatment can contact Tammy at firstname.lastname@example.org.