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Better Lives Stories

Walking away with a new lease on life

Ming Lien

Imagine waking up one morning and discovering you can’t walk. It was a reality that Ming Lien would face in the winter of 2007 after her right leg went numb without warning.

It felt like there was no signal in my leg at all,” says Ming. “I suffered a serious fall the year before where I hit my head and legs on the pavement. I thought maybe I had done more damage to my body than I first realized.The former Regina restaurant owner and mother of two tried to persevere, but in her heart of hearts, she knew something was wrong.

“Weeks went by and my leg was not getting better. I was forced to limp everywhere I went,” she says. “I didn’t want to alarm my family, but I was overcompensating a lot to deal with the pain.”
 
In search of answers, Ming went to her family physician in early 2008. That visit translated into a number of more focused examinations, including an orthopedist, a muscle specialist and an MRI. While Ming and her family grew increasingly concerned, she appreciated the support she received from Regina’s health-care community.

I was born in Vietnam. Many of my relatives live across North America," she says. "There is no question we have some of the best health-care services right here.

Shortly after Valentine’s Day, Ming received the results of her MRI and they were anything but sweet. Doctors discovered a tumor on her TI vertebra. The T1 vertebra is the first and smallest of the 12 thoracic vertebrae that make up the body’s spinal column. Doctors explained that surgery was her best option, but cautioned her that there was a risk she may never walk again.
 
“I experienced a mixed bag of emotions after my diagnosis,” she admits. “At first, I was relieved that I found out what was wrong with me. It took a couple days for it to sink in that this was serious and I may have cancer. Even so, I had an overwhelming feeling that I would be okay. I had faith in our hospitals.”
 
Ming’s surgery was a success and the tumor was found to be noncancerous. Ming’s life-changing operation was made possible thanks to investments made by Hospitals of Regina Foundation, including its 2014 surgical campaign that helped equip Regina’s operating rooms with more than 37 pieces of new equipment and technology.
 
She followed up her hospital stay with a brief stint at the Wascana Rehabilitation Centre to re-build the strength in her leg. Today, she is not only walking again, but running, as she tries to keep up with her new grandson.

This is one of the few times where I don’t have the words to express how thankful I am,” she says. “Like many people, I never thought I would require hospital care. The support of the Foundation and its donors helped me get back on my feet – literally. That means the world to me.

  • Walking away with a new lease on life
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