'You inspire me': B.C. girl with terminal illness meets Ellen DeGeneres
A girl with a terminal illness just had her dream come true when she met popular daytime television host and comedian Ellen DeGeneres before an appearance at Rogers Arena in Vancouver.
Eleven-year-old Jayda Suttie, who has a rare genetic disease called Vanishing White Matter, only learned that she would be meeting her hero about an hour before Friday’s show.
“The phone rang and one of the producers from CTV… said, ‘We just heard from the Ellen camp,’” Jayda’s mother, Linda Suttie, told CTV Vancouver. The two had made their plea on the television station some two weeks prior.
“When I told Jayda, she just, well (started) screaming, lots of excitement, tears,” Linda said.
Soon after, Jayda was meeting her idol.
“I said, ‘Hey Ellen,’” Jayda recalled. “I was crying at the time. I gave her a ginormous hug and I said, ‘You inspire me.’”
In 2016, Jayda bumped heads with another student during gym class and was rushed to hospital where she went into a coma. She awoke three days later to learn that doctors discovered she had Leukodystrophy, which is also known as “vanishing white matter disease,” or V.W.M.
The degenerative illness affects the central nervous system and can result in balance disorders, tremors and motor, intellectual and sensory function disorders, according to the Leukodystrophy’s Foundation.
Leukodystrophy cases are always fatal and people with the disease are generally given a life expectancy of between two and 10 years following a diagnosis.
It is estimated that only about 200 people worldwide have the disease, which is part of the reason why Jayda was so eager to meet DeGeneres. Jayda now hopes to raise awareness about Leukodystrophy.
“I need everybody that she works with to rally together and help the kids with V.W.M.,” Jayda said. “I'm good, but there's kids that are in wheelchairs and that can’t even eat themselves or see or hear or walk.”
With a report from CTV Vancouver’s Breanna Karstens-Smith