CORNWALL, Ontario - When the local music community heard that one of their own needed help, they banded together to do what they could, the best way they knew how - by making music.
Back in July of 2012, thirty-five-year-old Julie Smith was driving home from working in Brockville when she suddenly lost all feeling on the left side of her body. She was taken to hospital that night for a barrage of test and eventually sent to Kingston for an emergency MRI, through which were found six lesions in her head. Multiple sclerosis was the diagnosis.
Since then, her life has consisted of a daily injection and medications which subdues some of the pain.
Smith, the mother of two, has to sleep 16 hours a day and can’t do much of anything, not even cook or clean, because her hands are always numb.
“There are a lot of things I’d like to be able to do which I can’t any more, she said. “I don’t have the energy anymore, or the capacity to be able to do anything. I can’t even be out in the sun at all.”
Research in to a new procedure, Chronic Cerebrospinal Venus Insufficiencies (CCSVI) Liberation, which could greatly enhance Smith’s quality of life, has offered some hope, however the cost to have it done has been a great obstacle. It is only available in California and is not funded by OHIP.
The procedure, in which a catheter is inserted to re-open the veins, would allow proper blood flow into the head. Without it, she says, her condition will deteriorate pretty quickly.
With the $10,000 fee for the surgery and cost of flights and accommodations for her and her husband, estimated at another $5000 or so, the bill was just too steep for the young couple to even entertain the possibility.
When, local musician, Rod Rivette - a long-time friend of Smith and her husband, Brian, who is also a musician - heard that they were in need, he did not hesitate to set the ball in motion. Rivette said that he was concerned for the family and wanted to do something about it.
“We had to do something to help (a fellow) musician. We wanted to help our own; we’re all in it together.”
Rivette said that when he started making calls to other fellow musicians in the area, “everyone said, ‘ya, we’re in.’”
A two-day fundraising concert at La Maison, a couple of weeks ago, helped raise $4200. The line-up included LCF, Whiskey Sour, Jerry Freakboy Saucier, Shake the Tree, Heatley, The Trevor Walsh Group, Lovesick Mistress, Elly May, SwitchGear, and Heroes Fall.
“It was so overwhelming to see everybody who’d come through for me,” said Smith. “Just to see all my friends around and they were here to support me. It was a very, very good weekend.”
Fundraising efforts continue. For further information, or to make a donation online www.help-ms.com.