Maple Ridge resident Miranda Tymoschuk has been chosen for a Coast Mental Health Courage to Come Back Award for 2021.
She won in the Youth Award category, which in the words of the TV awards show host Corey Hirsch “recognizes the special strength of a young person, under 25 years of age, who has overcome illness, injury, social ,or economic adversity, and who confidently, and with a positive and determined manner, has gone on to inspire other young people.”
Born with a rare condition called posteromedial tibial bowing, as a child Tymoschuk had 10 surgeries requiring painful months of self-administered adjustments, and rehab to gradually lengthen and straighten her leg.
At the age of five, her father passed away suddenly.
“I felt like I was having to grow up really quickly,” she said.
Over the course of her life, she has been diagnosed with several complex chronic health conditions. After a traumatic experience in hospital left her with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, she experienced isolation, anxiety and depression. That led to an addiction to opiates she had been using to numb physical and emotional pain.
The 25-year-old has never let these challenges hold her back. Inspired by her medical team, and despite major setbacks and many missed periods of school, she aspires to become a doctor. She is constantly striving to improve herself – and help others in the process – through programs including the Patient Voices Network, Coast Mental Health Peer Support Training and the Ridge Meadows Local Action Team.
“The greatest thing I’ve learned is the power of connection between people as a catalyst for healing. I have learned that connection and community are two of the most valuable things in life,” she said.
Raised by a single mom, she saw the strain that travel, parking and food costs caused while she was hospitalized. So she created a new fund to support other families, which she nicknamed “Pay It Forward” Fund.
She has also volunteered for Free the Children, and interned for Health Access Connect in Kenya, Ghana, India and Uganda raising more than $75,000 over several years.
Tymoschuk sais she is grateful for the award.
“It has made me look back and realize how far I have come, and all the work it has been to get to where I am today,” she said. “Sometimes it’s easy to get discouraged by the things that continue to be a challenge for me, so this is a good reminder of the progress I’ve made. Even just watching my videos for the award show and for News 1130 surprises me because at one point in my life I could barely talk about that stuff with a counsellor – I would just shut down or become so overwhelmed that I couldn’t speak… but now here I am, feeling empowered to share my story.
“I hope that hearing my experiences helps other people in some way. I want everyone to know that it’s okay to be struggling, to ask for help, and there is a way out of really dark times. One thing I have learned is that connection and community are so valuable. So it’s important to be there for each other and to recognize that we all have the power to make a difference in someone else’s life. I would not have gotten this far without the people in my life. I feel like, as much as this award celebrates how far I’ve come and what I’ve been able to accomplish, it also celebrates all the people who have been there for me along the way.”
The full Courage to Come Back Awards TV Show, which celebrates five people who have overcome adversity, can be found on YouTube.
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