Melisa Crawford has one wish for Christmas.
She wants to bring her 15-year-old son, Khailnn Burdock home.
Before Khailnn began having serious health issues, he was a football star whose husky build gave him a great advantage on the field. Football is the love of his life, and he soon proved to be a natural on the field.
Sadly, the football jersey is much too big now, hanging loosely on a body that has shrunk to only 108 pounds.
On Jan. 21, 2013, after many painful tests and visits to the doctor, Khailnn underwent a colectomy due to juvenile polyposis. While in the hospital, he was diagnosed with SMAD 4, a gene mutation that attacks the internal organs and frequently requires surgical intervention.
On Dec, 3 the teenager will undergo reconstructive surgery again at the Children’s Hospital in Vancouver, B.C. The surgery, if successful, will mean he will no longer have to have an ileostomy bag.
Crawford plans to be by her son’s side at the hospital, and is determined to bring him home for Christmas.
“I know I’ll have him home for Christmas,” she said, her eyes welling up with tears. “I know I will.”
Crawford, a 34-year-old mother of five will stay at the Ronald McDonald House during her son’s stay in the hospital.
A dark haired woman with a gentle voice and a soft, sad smile, she tells her story, quietly, haltingly, often wiping away tears, about how she came to Bluffton, Alberta, escaping an abusive relationship and trying desperately to start over.
Crawford’s life seems to be one of ongoing challenges and roadblocks, made increasingly difficulty by immigration laws and rules and regulations she doesn’t understand.
Born in the United States, she met her Canadian born soon to be husband when she was only 14 while staying with a sister in British Columbia. She became intimate with the young man, who was a few years older than herself, and before long found herself pregnant. She gave birth to a premature little boy at the Children’s Hospital in Vancouver and moved back home to the U.S. with her family.
However, the father of her little boy came out later for a visit and, as fate would have it, the two ended up exchanging wedding vows.
Melisa was 15-years-old.
Four children and several years later, the family moved back to Canada, settling in Nanaimo, B.C. due to Khailnn’s health problems.
It was later discovered that another son, Christian also carries the SMAD 4 gene and will need surgery.
And to make matters worse, a physician at the Cancer Institute in Vancouver told Melisa herself that she was also positive for the SMAD 4 gene.
Meanwhile the situation between Melisa and her husband was steadily going from bad to worse and the young woman suffered constantly from bullying and verbal abuse. Although her husband had never hit her, she lived in constant terror that it was only a matter of time until he did.
“It seemed that no matter what I did I couldn’t get through to him, and he was getting angrier, nastier and more volatile by the minute.”
In desperation she had thoughts of taking her children and moving back to South Carolina to live with her family.
In the end, with no money, scared and alone, she left her children with their father, as he did not appear to be abusive to them and she felt they would be safe.
She knew she had to leave, but it was a heart wrenching decision.
“The guilt and stress were overwhelming and I hated myself, but deep down inside I also knew that if I stayed and couldn’t get him to stop hurting me, I would wind up in a mental hospital, or worse yet, fly into a blind rage and kill someone.”
The final straw came when her husband, after telling her she had 15 minutes to pack up and say goodbye to her children, physically pushed her out the door, leaving her with nothing but the clothes on her back and her wallet.
With the help of a caring friend, who is now her partner, she found her way to Bluffton, and was able to find work for a short while. However, as she is not a Canadian citizen and does not have a work visa, she was forced to quit.
“The immigration department will not allow me to work or receive any health care or social assistance,” she said.
Since moving to Bluffton, her 13-year-old son Sean has moved in with her. The other children remain with their father, but she hoping to have them all with her one day.
“With this being Christmas, I feel myself not knowing what to do. My heart is heavy with the sadness of my partner having to be the sole provider in our home and not knowing if we will be able to provide the children with a Christmas. Last minute airplane tickets have taken up our funds to Vancouver.
“As a last resort we welcome any support offered from our community. Any money raised will be going to Khailnn and Christian’s medical supplies, travels for us back and forth to the hospital and to provide a Christmas tree and stockings for the kids.”
For more information on the story check out A family’s Christmas wish by Melisa Crawford on Fundrazr/Facebook.
As well as cash donations, the family is also accepting donations of blankets, medium size Depends, men’s warm winter clothing, size large, and shoes, size 13. A washing machine is also needed.
Donations may be made by contacting Melisa at firstname.lastname@example.org or Kerrie at 403-704-3011.