CURE NATION: A native of Charlottetown on Prince Edward Island in Canada, Kristen Cameron hails from a hardworking, close knit community and a loving family. Undoubtedly, she grew up in a die-hard hockey home as she also happens to be the niece of Vienna Capitals’ head coach Dave Cameron.
A fiercely competitive athlete, she never imagined life as a person with a disability but a spinal cord injury caused by a hit-and-run drunk driver left her facing that reality. Luckily, Kristen’s close community of family, friends and teammates lent her the support she needed to find her competitive spirit again – along with several pivotal decisions shared below that guided her path to a positive new normal.
kristen cameron was born with Hockey in her blood
The long winters and short, gorgeous, summers of Prince Edward Island (PEI) seem ideal for developing an athletic career that revolves around the winter. That is certainly true of Kristen Cameron, who always dreamed of coaching hockey. She relished in being active and her competitive spirit could rival anyone’s on or off the rink.
With an intense determination and drive like no other, Kristen instinctively knew she was going to play hockey for a living. She even spent her short summers training for hockey, pursuing her goal like it was her destiny.
She also cycled endlessly. “I loved being on my bike and feeling free. I also loved pushing myself and trying to go further every time,” she explains.
Some might say that hockey is in her genes, not just from her Maritime Canadian upbringing (Prince Edward Island has the highest rinks-per-capita in all of Canada), but also from her family’s influence who are all enthusiastic hockey players and fans. Kristen’s uncle, Dave Cameron, was a forward with the Colorado Rockies and New Jersey Devils in the 1980’s and served as head coach of the Ottawa Senators in the mid-2010’s. He currently coaches the Vienna Capitals hockey team.
“I took a lot of pride in being able to revolve my life around hockey, especially being Canadian and being from Prince Edward Island,” Kristen shares.
Kristen built a peer support network at school
Kristen attended prep school in New Hampshire. After graduation, she was accepted to Bowdoin College in Maine. While at Bowdoin, Kristen played hockey, soccer and golf. She majored in Psychology and minored in Economics.
“I absolutely loved my university experience and attribute it to a big part of the reason I was able to deal with my spinal cord injury,” Kristen says. “The school is extremely competitive academically and I’m still extremely close with my friends from university. The individuals I played hockey with were and still are a massive part of my support system post-SCI.”
After her time at Bowdoin, Kristen accepted a position as the Assistant Coach of the women’s hockey team at Mercyhurst College in Erie, Pennsylvania. Simultaneously, she was pursuing on her Master’s degree in Organizational Leadership.
All of that changed in the blink of an eye during a fateful morning bike ride.
THE MOMENT KRISTEN FACED A DRUNK DRIVER
Nine years ago, while out biking in her quiet Erie community, Kristen was struck on the road by a drunk driver. The collision instantly broke her neck, and she sustained a C5 spinal cord injury.
Kristen doesn’t remember anything about the accident, but accident investigators believe she was thrown almost 50 feet from her bike. Witnesses told police that the driver, Allen Peters, pulled over to check the damage to his vehicle before continuing home, leaving Kristen paralyzed on the side of the road.
VIDEO: SPORTSNET SHARES KRISTEN’S key turning point AFTER SCI
While Kristen didn’t attend the criminal trial for Allen Peters (she wasn’t in physical shape yet to travel back to Pennsylvania for it), she did write a victim impact statement outlining how his actions have and will continue to impact her life.
To this day, Peters has never apologized for his actions and she counts that as the one thing that bothers her the most about her SCI.
“Obviously it was tough what happened.. but I knew I was in a better situation than the guy who hit me,” Kristen says. “I knew in the back of my mind that he was going to need more help than even I would.”
kristen moves forward in Finding herself again
After spending two weeks at the local Erie hospital, Kristen was transferred to Toronto to begin rehabilitation. That was when she discovered just how strong her support network was, thanks to her hockey teammates.
“I’m still really close with a lot of my teammates from Mercyhurst. They used to stagger their drives up to Toronto to visit me when I was in rehab, so I would have something to look forward to,” Kristen remembers with a grateful smile.
“The nurses used to call my room Grand Central Station because there were so many visitors. I will be forever grateful to those teammates for their support.”
While she acknowledges how almost everything in her life has changed since her accident, Kristen says she “remains grounded in the same values as before. I still identify as an athlete and someone who is intelligent, extremely competitive, and compassionate.”
Transferring skills from hockey to murderball
Kristen jumped back into sports after her accident, searching for the camaraderie that she had with hockey. She discovered that fellowship in wheelchair rugby (also known as Murderball), saying that “rugby helped give me my athlete identity back.”
Being a part of the rugby team allowed Kristen to interact with people who have injuries similar to hers while also still being independent and competitive. Her new teammates encouraged her to do everything she could for herself and this also gave her a stronger sense of self-sufficiency.
WHY Kristen chose Bladder Augmentation via Mitrofanoff Surgery
To further her independence beyond the support system found in team sports, Kristen also had a bladder augmentation surgical procedure known as Mitrofanoff surgery.
“That means I self-catheterizes through a stoma just below my belly button,” Kristen explains. As a quadriplegic, having the Mitrofanoff procedure has given her more confidence to get out of the house, doing things with friends and having fun because she doesn’t have to worry as much about her bladder or needing assistance anymore in order to self-cath.
Considering Mitrofanoff Surgery Too?
view more resources below:
1. Natalie Barnhard Discusses Her Mitrofanoff Procedure from a Quadriplegic’s Perspective
2. Mitrofanoff Surgery Gave Chad Waligura a More Active Life
Because Kristen has learned so much about her body and creative ways to excel after spinal cord injury, she’s also thankful when she meets like-minded people who understand her journey.
That’s why Kristen was so pleased the first time she ordered complimentary Cure Catheter samples through a Canadian distributor! She says the support staff were extremely open to learning more about the unique way she catheterizes via a stoma.
“I always appreciate it when people are interested in learning more about disability,” she says.
WHY KIRSTEN CHOOSES A CURE CATHETER
Kristen was extremely excited to try Cure catheters earlier this year, especially when she discovered all of their features that she really enjoyed.
“I like how Cure catheters have an easy gripper sleeve on them that helps keep the catheterization process cleaner for me. I also like how pre-lubricated Cure Ultra catheters aren’t messy,” she relays.
“Other brands of pre-lubricated catheters that I’ve dealt with in the past are messy and drip all over me when I open the package. I’m glad that the Cure Ultra doesn’t drip.”
Kristen’s not alone in her appreciation. Ready-to-use Cure Medical catheters like the Cure Twist for women and the Cure Ultra won’t make a mess when you use them! With no drip and no kinks in our pre-lubricated products, you’ll enjoy Choosing a Cure catheter too.
To request free samples of the Cure Ultra® Ready-to-Use Catheter or any Cure Medical catheter, contact your local distributor of quality healthcare products, or click here.
Today, Kristen Counsels Newly-Injured People at sci ontario
These days, Kristen is living on her own with the assistance of her service dog Fido. Kristen describes her furry friend as “amazing, beautiful, and unbelievably loyal.” Whether it’s help with taking her coat on or off, opening doors or picking things up, Fido is there to lend a paw!
Kristen works as a Peer Support Coordinator with Spinal Cord Injury Ontario, a job she loves because she gets to interact with people all day. (It doesn’t hurt that her clients love seeing Fido too.)
And while she is presently taking a break from quad rugby to heal from a hip replacement, Kristen is still hoping to one day compete for Canada at the Paralympics!
Stay tuned to the Cure Nation for more news as we learn it about Kristen Cameron.
Note: Surgery is a big decision for anyone. Kristen felt the Mitrofanoff procedure was her best option to maintain her independence and active lifestyle. However, Kristen’s opinions are her own, and this article is not presented as medical advice. For informational use only — consult your physician with questions about Mitrofanoff surgery and whether it is right for you!
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Founded by a quadriplegic, Cure Medical is the only catheter manufacturer in the world that donates10% of net income to support research programs in pursuit of a cure for urinary retention, paralysis, spinal cord injury and central nervous system disorders.
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