Within the past year, Erin Kreiter has gone from working on important cancer research at the University of Alberta to a bed in the ICU at Vancouver General Hospital, unable to breathe on her own or to move her body.
In August 2012, after seemingly getting sicker and sicker without knowing why, Erin went into respiratory crisis and coded, said her dad Tim Kreiter, a sergeant with the Langley RCMP.
She underwent an emergency tracheotomy and spent three months in the ICU with breathing through a ventilator. She was moved to the respiratory floor at VGH for three months and spent another six months at GF Strong learning to transition to life as a quadriplegic. She came home to Langley on Aug. 22.
After extensive testing, doctors believe she has a degenerative neuromuscular disorder related to muscular dystrophy. It usually manifests in women in their 20s, she said.
Erin, 28, is on leave from U of A ,but her goal is to get back to school by September, 2014.
“I have some movement from my elbow to my hands, so through my hand functions I can work on a computer and can talk/type into my laptop,” she said.
But there are challenges to that, among them is that the degenerative disorder affects her vision.
Tim , who is currently on leave from his job with the serious crime section to help Erin, had the main floor of their Langley family home gutted to accommodate his daughter.
A bedroom and special bathroom were put in, sunken living rooms were raised, doorways widened and the kitchen redone. Ramps were installed at the home’s entrance. They received funding for her bed lift and specialized bed, as well as her wheelchair, Tim said, but the Kreiters had to pay for the $200,000 worth of home renovations. They also bought a van and had it outfitted with a lift, to allow Erin to get in and out using her wheelchair.
With lots of searching, they kept those costs down to around $40,000.
“What has happened with Erin has taken a great emotional and financial toll on Tim and his wife,” said retired Langley RCMP officer John Gould.
After receiving the gift of life through a bone marrow transplant, Gould felt that a chance meeting with Kreiter and his daughter, was his opportunity to share his good fortune.
“I happened to see Tim and Erin and I knew I had to do something to help,” said Gould. “I’m really lucky. My kids are healthy and a total stranger gave me a new lease on life. I want to pay it forward.”
Since retiring from the force, Gould now runs his own power washing business, Dominion Power Washing. He is offering power washing services with all proceeds going to help Erin. He put out a request for officers to volunteer their time to help and the response has been unbelievable, he said.
“The response from police officers from Burnaby, Delta and everywhere has been huge,” he said.
“Everyone is willing to volunteer their time to help the Kreiters out.”
Gould himself was given just three years to live after chemotherapy failed to treat a rare form of blood cancer.
A bone marrow transplant was his only chance at life, and after it was determined that none of his family members was a match, a 20-year-old stranger from East Germany was found.
Gould has been in remission for three months.
Sgt. Kreiter has served this community since 1981, with both his daughters attending Walnut Grove Secondary and Trinity Western University.
The show of support from fellow officers has been overwhelming, said Tim.
Just last week, the Langley RCMP detachment held a fundraising barbecue, and between all the staff and officers, more than $2,200 was raised for the Kreiters.
The family is now working hard to find the right caregiver to hire for Erin. While the health authority did provide some care, it wasn’t the right fit for her, they said.
Erin is on a myriad of drugs which she must take every three hours. Without one form of medication, she will become completely paralyzed, and could lose the ability to open her eyes or speak.
Erin doesn’t know what the future holds, or if her situation will get worse or better, because the host of medical professionals working with her are still trying to pinpoint exactly what she has.
“But, this isn’t about ‘Oh, poor me.’ This is about the kindness of so many like John and all the police officers who want to help,” said Erin.
Officers from nearly every municipality, even as far as Vancouver are on board to volunteer their weekends to power wash.
Now, Gould just needs the businesses to step forward to have their buildings cleaned.
Dominion Power Washing is supplying the trucks, equipment, chemicals and fuel with all the proceeds going to the Erin Kreiter Trust Fund. DPW is offering substantial discounts on hot water power washing of sidewalks, parking lots, patios, drive thru lanes, etc.
The cleaning will mostly be performed on weekends. To obtain a quote or book a cleaning in support of Erin, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 604-510-9274. If you would like to make a donation you can at the Murrayville TD Bank, transit: 9190 Account 6320987.