At 12 years old, Shania’s dream was to represent Australia and compete for the Olympic Gold. Being a junior State Champion for three years in a row definitely put her on the right track.
She broke many records in her young career, including one that had been standing for 22 years and another that had remained unbroken for 17 years. She was accustomed to being a Champion.
It was not at all unusual for her to return from a swim meet with 8 gold medals and a couple of silvers. Her medals and trophies line the shelves in her proud parents’ living room. There were many who thought she just might make it to the Australian Olympic swim team. After all, Shania “the Flyer” was unbeatable in most events, especially the butterfly.
By the tender age of 12, she had already been selected for the state swim team and handpicked by Swimming W.A. to join a special training squad for the State’s elite junior swimmers. Everything she did led her closer to her dream.
All of that came to an abrupt halt on August 9, 2009, 9 days after her second injection of Gardasil, when she collapsed in front of hundreds of spectators during a swimming competition. Shania was rushed to the hospital and had to be wheeled in because she was unable to walk. She felt nauseous, had a headache and blurred vision. She complained of being dizzy and hovered on the edge of consciousness. Her asthma, which had been under control for so long that she had forgotten about it, came back with a vengeance. She could hardly breath and was coughing a lot. She had no reflexes and could not stand on her own, much less walk. Shania said her arms and legs “felt dead.”
Six hours later, after various doctors had performed every test they could imagine and were still shaking their heads, Shania was allowed to go home with the understanding she would be seen by her own doctor the next day.
As it turns out, August 9 was not the beginning of Shania’s nightmare. She had been suffering many symptoms since her first Gardasil shot, but like the champion she was, she toughed it out and kept going until she completely collapsed.
Her symptoms have included extremely high fever, headache, aching heavy limbs and extreme tiredness. She seemed nauseous and had a difficult time concentrating. Her parents noticed she was losing her hair. Where her menstrual cycle had always been as regular as clockwork, now it was not. Shania began to constantly complain of numbness, or a “pins and needles” sensation in her limbs. She developed a severe rash that extends over most of her body. The slightest physical exertion causes her to spend several days recovering.
Shania has been tested for everything under the sun, to no avail. Her doctors are still calling it a “mystery condition.” They can find no answer other than Gardasil, yet they can not seem to prove the connection.
Two of her specialists told her parents not to expect doctors to be ‘helpful’ with trying to make the connection to Gardasil, regardless of the evidence, because the moment one of them admits it was Gardasil, it would open them up to lawsuits.
Meanwhile, over 8 months later, Shania is still trying to recover some semblance of her normal self. She is a long way from back to normal, but she is experiencing some improvements.
Her parents know she will probably never be able to return to the pool. They hope and pray their daughter will someday have the energy to participate in some of the things she used to enjoy. They wonder how you compensate someone for a lost dream.
Everything Shania lived for and trained for was aimed at reaching her dream of the Olympic Swim Team. She had one goal, one dream — a dream that was turned into a nightmare by Gardasil.