Today’s Honoree is Cyndi Desjardins Wilkens

Cyndi Desjardins demonstrates and lives with extreme courage, motivation and inspiration in the face of a shocking turn of events that left her a quadruple amputee. And for sharing her story and her courageous spirit with friends, family and communities at her recent public speaking events.

Cyndi Desjardins Wilkens’ life changed dramatically in a matter of days. And with a husband and 2 beautiful children — her youngest child was a newborn at the time — her courage and ready-to-win-again attitude is one of the most beautiful gifts she has to give.

During the first week of February 2011 Cyndi became ill with what she thought was a very bad flu….high fever, vomiting and diarrhea. Soon afterwards, she started feeling severe pain in the back of her right thigh. Within days, the pain increased to the point that she could not walk….not at all! She felt completely exhausted, staying awake through the night as her new baby, Liam, had colic and croup.

She had been to the emergency room a couple of times with him, so she wasn’t getting much sleep. On the morning of Friday February 4 at around 10am Cyndi was taken by ambulance to the local hospital. She was admitted in very serious condition which changed to critical condition as soon as the medical staff took one look at her… because they couldn’t even get a blood pressure reading.

Through the entire weekend, doctors and emergency staff ran test after test, trying to save Cyndi’s life. Cyndi’s husband Marc and her parents were called into the hospital a couple of times during the first few nights. The hospital staff really didn’t expect she was going to survive another day. On Sunday February 6 it was confirmed that she had Necrotizing Fasciitis, commonly known as “flesh-eating disease.”

As aggressive toxins were ravaging her body, she was placed on kidney dialysis. The doctor explained to Marc that the excruciating pain Cyndi had been experiencing in her right thigh indicated the initial impact of deadly bacteria there — from an unknown source. Cyndi was immediately placed in a medically-induced, deep coma that lasted for few weeks. She was eventually transferred to St Mike’s Hospital in downtown Toronto for surgery.

On Wednesday March 2 she had the surgery, to amputate all four of her limbs — both hands and forearms, and both legs below the knee. It is truly a miracle that Cyndi survived. The second week of May, Cyndi was transferred to a rehabilitation facility. There she slowly re-learned how to walk with artificial legs, along with all of the basic every-day functions she’d been doing all her life.

Things we all take for granted. As gut-wrenching and heartbreaking as this story is, in reality Cyndi is an amazing woman who has an extraordinary will to live, fight and to overcome each of these enormous challenges. Every day, she strives to take back the ability to care for her children, be a mother, and a wife, again. And she’s recently started speaking at local community events, spreading awareness of the disease and her encouraging and personally motivating story of courage and triumph.

In fact, a local woman was inspired to create an entire fundraising event after simply reading Cyndi’s story in the newspaper!

Visit Cyndi Desjardins Wilkens for more information.

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