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Cornelia B

After every call, I felt hope.

For many of us, our holiday wish lists are full of things like new TVs, the latest tech, shoes, clothes, jewelry, and a Cleveland Browns Super Bowl win (ok, maybe that’s just on my list, but I digress).

The point is that we so often focus on things - on the tangible stuff we hope for. Presents stacked under the tree, neatly wrapped and ready to open.

But for so many others, what they wish for can’t be seen, held, or tied up with ribbons and bows. Like Cornelia B., for example. For more than two decades, she’s hoped for the same gift: comfort. 

When she was just 34 years old, she began experiencing debilitating pain from her hips through her lower extremities. “It was constant, day-long pain that radiated through my body,” she told us.

Sometimes, her only respite came from short bouts of sleep. If you’ve ever personally endured a surgery recovery or difficult medical procedure, you can empathize with her plight. During your waking hours, it takes up all the space in your mind. You move from one routine to the next, hoping for a distraction, looking for something to keep your mind off the pain. And that’s short-term discomfort, typically. You can see the light at the end of the tunnel, knowing you likely have a few days or weeks before life will return to normal. 

For Cornelia, there was no end in sight. There was no guideline for how long she would have to endure, no playbook for how to manage chronic pain.

Doctors did their best to provide answers, and she underwent countless tests and ineffective treatment options to determine what could be causing her symptoms. 

“Thankfully, my husband and youngest daughter were a great support,” she told us. “I don’t know how I could have managed without them.”

Years went by. Cornelia tried topical steroids, injections, anti-inflammatory medications, and simple pain relief options like Ibuprofen and Tylenol. It was like placing a kid-sized bandaid on a wide, gaping wound. 

Eventually, an astute OB/GYN decided to perform a biopsy on Cornelia, and a years-long search for an answer came to a screeching halt. She was diagnosed with a rare condition called lichen sclerosus, a skin condition that can cause intense itching, discomfort, and/or erosions and ulcers. It typically has a remitting relapse course that’s complicated by permanent scarring of the affected areas. While the causes of this disorder are still unknown, current research shows that a combination of a dysfunction of the immune system and genetic factors causes it. 

Cornelia’s case was likely more challenging to identify because she experienced a reverse effect, and her condition targeted less typical regions of the body.

For her, having a name was one thing. Addressing the chronic pain was another. And she had a lot of reason to find some relief, separate from herself.

Cornelia and her husband are the full-time caregivers of two granddaughters, now ages four and eight. They love to go to the park, the library, and even the local small waterpark. And while the effects of Cornelia’s health have turned her into more of a “homebody” (she loves to read books and magazines), she wants to have more life experiences with her grandchildren. 

So, one day, she sat at the computer and began googling new treatment and relief options for her condition. That’s when she came across the Coyle Institute, a urogynecology center in Pensacola, Florida. There, Dr. Coyle offers a minimally invasive treatment that provides the one thing Cornelia has hoped for over the last two decades: comfort. 

There was just one last hurdle. Cornelia needed some assistance covering the cost and travel to Florida from her home in South Carolina. Back to the computer she went, and this time, she found another valuable resource – Chive Charities. 

Through the support of our generous one-time and monthly donors, we could approve Cornelia’s request for support and fully fund the cost of her TULIP treatment, gas, and hotel for a three-day trip. The total impact was $7,623.

Cornelia is scheduled to receive treatment on December 18, and the relief should be nearly immediate. Think of that…after 20 years of waiting, in less than a few weeks, she should finally be free from chronic pain. 

“I am so thankful for people like you,” she told us. “I called many other organizations looking for help, and all they could provide was information. Information. But every time I got off the phone with the Chive Charities team, I felt hope.”

That’s what we mean when we talk about making the world 10% happier. It’s a vehicle that creates independence and freedom. It’s a service dog that provides a gateway back into the world. It’s a treatment that brings comfort and healing.

For all those still waiting for their wish to come true, we invite you to join our movement and create life-changing experiences for the rare medical families, Veterans, first responders, and military dependents we serve. After all, it’s not called the season of giving for nothing. DONATE HERE.

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