Meet Darlene: Summer Fun Brings Medical Misfortune

In 2020, Darlene Roth-Chaloner, then 46, was enjoying an annual camping trip in Whiteshell Provincial Park. During her trip, Roth-Chaloner’s camping partner and cousin Angie Jordan was bitten by a bug, which led to a swollen red lump on Jordan’s leg. When Roth-Chaloner later found a similar looking bump on her thigh, she suspected it was also a bug bite.  

Darlene Roth-Chaloner spending time in the Whiteshell Provincial Park with her son Hayden, a tradition they uphold every year.

Roth-Chaloner knew a trip to a walk-in clinic to treat the bite wouldn’t be simple. Since 2015 when she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS), Roth Chaloner had been on a disease-modifying therapy drug which limited what medications it could be paired with. 

The medication Roth-Chaloner was given at the walk-in clinic didn’t work, and the wound on her leg worsened. Hoping for a different result, she visited an urgent care facility where they took a sample of the wound and gave Roth-Chaloner two different IV antibiotics.  

Unfortunately, one or both antibiotics caused an allergic reaction.

“It was the most pain I had ever felt, I couldn’t move. I had a full body rash from head to toe—it was even inside my mouth,” says Roth-Chaloner. 

Before the rash took hold, Roth-Chaloner went for another round of IV antibiotic treatments to treat what she still thought was a bug bite. When she arrived, Roth-Chaloner was told that the wound wasn’t a bug bite, it was blastomycosis, a fungal infection that can lead to skin lesions in people with weakened immune systems.  

Roth-Chaloner was told to see Dr. John Embil, an internationally recognized infectious disease specialist at HSC Winnipeg and a leading authority on blastomycosis.  

“After giving me a chest x-ray, Dr. Embil was surprised. He said my blastomycosis was presenting as atypical. I had the skin lesions, which usually came second to the difficulty breathing and shortness of breath, which I didn’t have,” says Roth-Chaloner. 

Roth-Chaloner's son Hayden and mom Mary have always been her biggest supporters throughout her medical treatments. 

“I was starting a new MS disease-modifying therapy soon. The one I was on wasn’t working as well as my doctors hoped, so they wanted me to try a different treatment, which was also more accepting of other medicines,” says Roth-Chaloner.  

When Roth-Chaloner made the transition to the new disease-modifying therapy drug, she also began treatments every three months to treat her blastomycosis, which has since been fully treated. Regular appointments with Dr. Embil have ensured the blastomycosis doesn’t return.  

The new disease-modifying therapy treatments have also been going well and Roth-Chaloner’s doctors are happy with her progress. But living with MS has changed her view on life. 

“I see the trivial things in life now from a different perspective. Things can be much worse, and other people are living harder lives and fighting tougher battles. I can’t change my MS. I have zero control over it, so I make the best of it,” says Roth-Chaloner.  

Through her entire medical journey, Roth-Chaloner has been surrounded by an incredible support system. She’d like to thank her son and angel Hayden, brother Corey, cousins Angie Jordan, Lori Lachance, and Bernadette Scudder, as well as her friends Julye Carvalho and Tamara Domenco, and the one who continues to steer the ship of her support team, her mother Mary Roth. Without them at her side, Roth-Chaloner knows her battles would be much more difficult.  

We All Need HSC, and HSC Needs You

You can save a life. Your HSC Millionaire Lottery ticket purchase helps us provide the best possible care for patients and make life-changing—and life-saving—technological advances. The support we receive from lottery purchases like you helps make life better for the patients and families, like Darlene, who visit HSC every day. 

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Meet Vickie: "I am all in"

Vickie Murdock was given the nickname Angel by her father, Allen Bushie, when she was a child. But neither father nor daughter ever imagined how much she would live up to that name until Murdock donated her kidney to her father in June 2022. 

Until 2018, test results showed that Bushie’s kidneys were operating consistently at 17 percent functionality, only slightly above 15 percent which is considered kidney failure. Bushie was hesitant to undergo dialysis, but when his kidney function dropped to only 11 percent, Murdock and her siblings knew that they needed to act immediately. 

Bushie had two options for a kidney donation. The first was to go on a waiting list, for an unknown amount of time, and hope a donor match would be made. The second was to find a living donor. 

Immediately, Murdock threw her hand up in the air. 

“I’ll do it; I am all in.” 

“I’ll do it; I am all in.” Murdock knew the responsibility was hers and hers alone. When the test results showed Murdock was a match, she was ready. 

Murdock knew her older sister, who acted as their father’s unofficial nurse, had health problems of her own, and as the next oldest child, Murdock knew the responsibility was hers and hers alone. When the test results showed Murdock was a match, she was ready. 

Then COVID-19 hit, and the transplant was postponed. 

Finally, in April 2022, Murdock and Bushie were told their surgery was at the top of the list. By mid-May, Murdock, her husband, her mother, and her father, were all isolating together in Hollow Water First Nation where Murdock had grown up. 

“Some people couldn’t do two weeks isolated with their parents, but we are all best friends, and we enjoyed and loved the time together and took this time as reflection,” says Murdock. 

The kidney transplant took place on June 2, 2022. The original plan was for Murdock to receive three small incisions. Because of the size of her kidney, Murdock ended up needing five. 

The transplant was a success, but what was supposed to be a two-week recovery for Murdock turned into three because of the added incisions. As a result, the recovery turned out to be more challenging than she expected. Murdock lost her paternal grandmother in January 2022. Murdock’s grandmother came to her in a dream the day before the surgery and told Murdock to rest when her surgery was done; she said: “I know you’re always on the go, but you need the time to rest for you, my girl.” 

Bushie and Murdock recovered and isolated together for three weeks after their transplant surgeries. 

“It was hard being next to my dad every day thinking I was starting my own journey into the Spirit World. I didn’t want him to know I was hurting because I didn’t want him to think it was his fault,” says Murdock. 

Even during the worst of Murdock’s recovery, she hid her pain from her father. 

“It was a big sacrifice for her,” says Bushie. “I accepted it, and I recovered. My body got stronger, but she had to battle through it. She gave me a gift, a gift to live a longer life, and I give her a lot of credit. I thank her for that.” 

Murdock doesn’t know if this experience has changed who she is as a person as her only intent was to extend her father’s life so he can be a part of his future great grandbabies’ lives, but Bushie knows it has changed him. Before the transplant, Bushie was never one to say “I love you” to his kids often. Now, he says it every time he sees them. He feels a deeper connection to his children now, especially his Angel. 

Murdock and Bushie would like to thank all HSC staff who were involved with their compassionate care, and HSC Foundation donors for their support of the HSC Transplant Wellness Centre. 

We All Need HSC, and HSC Needs You

You can save a life. Your HSC Millionaire Lottery ticket purchase helps us provide the best possible care for patients and make life-changing—and life-saving—technological advances. The support we receive from lottery purchases like you helps make life better for the patients and families, like Vickie and her father, who visit HSC every day. 

Plus, when you get your ticket, you'll be automatically entered to win over 2,000 prizes, including the Grand Prize draw – worth up to $1.5 million. So, not only can you make a difference, but you also could be Manitoba's next millionaire!