CURE NATION: After sustaining a C5 spinal cord injury as a teenager, Jessica Kruger of Coquitlam, British Columbia went on to become a leading competitor on the Murderball court. A girly-girl with a passion for sports and sweets, join us below on Jessica’s journey from early recovery to competing in wheelchair rugby to now being a successful owner of a dessert business!
Jessica Kruger explored the world in her youth
Jessica was born in Coquitlam, British Columbia and had what she describes as a “non-traditional childhood”. When she was three years old, she and her family (her mother, father, and sister) moved onto the sailboat her father had crafted in their backyard. They saved up for a few years and, when Jessica was six, they departed from Vancouver to circumnavigate the globe.
“Over the next four years, I traveled to 37 different countries while being homeschooled. I saw the entire world before I was 10, so that’s a pretty good life education!,” Jessica shares.
Jessica returned to British Columbia with a rich understanding of the world she was part of, but she was also anxious to get into the activities she felt she had missed while on the boat.
“I was really excited to get into sports, basketball, softball, volleyball, and cheerleading. I wanted to embrace everything I felt like I couldn’t do while we were on the boat.”
It wasn’t too long, though, before her life took another drastic turn.
When she was 15 years old, Jessica landed a job with a local painting company, working on houses over the summer break with her sister.
PAINTING A NEW PATH after SCI
“My second week on the job, we had just started the second house. I told the person I was working with that day that I wanted to do the high work for the day, on the top of the ladder.”
After climbing to the top of the ladder, Jessica began to feel lightheaded. She knew she wouldn’t be able to get down in time, so she tried to drape herself over the top of the ladder in what she thought would be the safest position if she lost consciousness.
Unfortunately, she still fell off the ladder, fracturing her neck and sustaining a C5 incomplete spinal cord injury in the process.
“My accident happened right at the beginning of summer, so I wasn’t missing school for the first two-and a-bit months while I was in rehab. By the time school was back in session, I felt that I was ready to take some classes while I was still a patient at GF Strong (the rehabilitation center in Vancouver), so I had tutors come in to help me stay up to date with my classes,” she explains.
Jessica pushed herself hard in therapy following her accident, managing her classes as well as a demanding therapy schedule.
Through it all, she remained determined to feel “normal” again.
“When I left rehab, it was the second half of grade 10 and I was able to transition back to where I would have been if I hadn’t missed the first few months,” she adds.
RETURNING TO HIGH SCHOOL AFTER SCI
Jessica feels that the community she had built for herself at school before her accident helped to protect her from criticism and bullying when she returned to classes as a wheelchair user.
“If you ask any 15-year-old what their high school experience is like, they’ll have some version of being jaded and some sort of struggle, so being in a wheelchair just complicates that whole thing,” she says.
“Before my injury, I had friends, played sports, and was a successful student with teachers that liked me. I then left for the summer and came back an entirely different person. Even the people who knew I had my accident, didn’t fully understand the severity of it. Even I didn’t really understand the severity of it for years afterward.”
FINDING PEACE WITHIN HERSELF
Jessica has said previously that it took almost eight years for her to fully comes to grips with her injury. She describes her sense of “being okay” as an act that she learned to perform flawlessly.
Even after pneumonia caused a lung to collapse just months before high school graduation, and through a three-year long struggle with ongoing bladder infections and antibiotic resistance, she continued what she describes as a “comfortable denial.”
“Slowly, with time, I began to acknowledge that I was likely never going to walk again.”
“Rather than devoting my energy to pretending I wasn’t really in a wheelchair, I began to accept that I was. Previously I had believed that socializing with other people in my circumstance was admitting defeat, but now I was ready to give it a chance.”
Jessica Takes on ParaSports
Jessica is a self-described “girly-girl” with a love of dresses and boots, so it may come as a surprise that her sport of choice in the disability community is the hard-hitting (and sometimes violent) quad rugby. On the rugby court Jessica is a force to be reckoned with.
“Rugby gave me that space to be competitive again where it wasn’t about the fact that I was in a wheelchair at all. It was about being an athlete,” she adds.
Jessica took a year and a half after graduating from University (she has a degree in English from SFU) to develop her rugby skills. Though she made it to the next level (the step between the provincial team and the national team), she was cut before making the Canadian National Team that competes in the Paralympics. After this disappointment, Jessica decided to split her focus between rugby (she still plays for the BC provincial team) and her career outside of sport.
jessica cooks up A CAREER THAT FITS her lifestyle goals
Jessica had to redefine her goals and dreams following her accident and took the time to discover new activities that she enjoyed. “Doing something that you previously loved as an abled bodied person and not being able to do it to the same capacity was really frustrating to me in the beginning, so in a lot of ways I looked for totally different things,” she explains.
Describing her career aspirations as “always wanting to do something that helped others,” she has certainly found a sweet way to do that!
Jessica now owns and operates The Stubborn Baker where she creates and serves delicious, gorgeous sweets to the Vancouver area. The Stubborn Baker is a custom order dessert business, and she creates treats for birthdays, baby showers, weddings, anything you want a special treat for. Cupcakes, cookies, cakes, and macarons galore!
“I really love having a skill that can make other people happy,” she says.
LISE Watier sHARES SOMETHING SWEET WITH jESSICA Kruger
In 2014, the Canadian perfume company Lise Watier launched a campaign to find the face for their newest fragrance named “Something Sweet”. Jessica’s friends encouraged her to apply, knowing that her bubbly sweet attitude fit exactly what Lise Watier was looking for.
The perfume brand wasn’t specifically looking for a brand representative who had a disability, and the contest was open to the general public. Undeterred, Jessica eventually won the competition and represented the brand for a year following the win.
Jessica says her favourite part of the win (besides trips to Montreal and on-location photo shoots) was that “I had a platform to say something that I felt the world needed to hear, which was ‘see a person with a disability as more than just their disability.’”
Why Jessica Enjoys Cure Hydrophilic Catheters
Canadian friends of the Cure Nation encouraged Jessica to try a sample of Cure Catheters last year after Cure officially expanded into the Canadian marketplace. Jessica is well-known as a local community advocate who is willing to try new things and look for new ways to minimize secondary complications after injury.
“I thought the Cure Hydrophilic catheters were great,” she says. “Easy to use, with all of the necessary components packed into one sleek package, and easy to store!”
Jessica uses hydrophilic catheters on a daily basis but she also loves the discreet styling offered by the Cure Twist, a pre-lubricated intermittent catheter with packaging that resembles mascara or a lipstick tube.“Yes, I also especially liked the small “purse sized” catheters called the Cure Twist, as it was easy and discrete to tuck them away for whenever I needed them without committing to a large backpack or medical supply bag,” Jessica explains.
Learn more about the Cure Twist for Women here.
The Hydrophilic Cure Catheter® is available with a straight or coude tip, and is not made with DEHP/DINP*, BPA or Natural Rubber Latex.
Cure Medical is proud to offer the ONLY sterile, single use hydrophilic catheter that features ALL of these benefits:
- Smooth polished eyelets for increased comfort
- Straight or coude tip
- Available in French sizes 12-18
- Hydrophilic coating for quick lubrication
- Purified water packet for easy, mess-free/stain-free hydration
- Textured advancer/gripper for clean, easy catheter insertion
- High quality materials not made with DEHP/DINP*, BPA or natural rubber latex – learn more about the concerns with DEHP here.
- Support of research in pursuit of a cure for SCI and CNS/D
- Available in USA and Canada
Try a Free Cure Catheter Sample like Jessica did to compare the smoothness of our eyelets vs. what you are currently using. You can see and feel the difference!
Enjoy Our Free Resources & Articles
CURE NATION is designed with you in mind, to offer assistance and education when you need it through a personal support program.
All of the information you find below and on our related social media pages is meant to guide you to places, topics and resources that enhance your life, while also connecting you with a growing group of friends.
- Sign up for our free, CURE NATION e-newsletter to have our latest stories delivered directly to you, once a month.
- Get our FREE LIFESTYLE + ACCESSIBLE TRAVEL BOOKS here.
- Meet us in person at a CURE NATION event.
- Have an idea you’d like to share? Let us know.
- Be sure to take minute to meet our Cure Advocates too.
You may also enjoy: