Every Tuesday, Aaliya Jaffer walks into the principal’s office of the As-Sadiq Islamic School and greets the administrative staff with a cheerful smile and “Salaam alaykum”. She signs herself in and gets ready for a full day at school volunteering with the grade 3 teacher and her students.
Syrian Canadian Sara Takieddin crowdfunded on LaunchGood.comin order to pay off the debts she accumulated while struggling with mental illness and financial distress as an immigrant to Canada after her marriage ended badly.
October was Arteriovenous Malformation (AVM) Awareness Month. According to the Toronto Brain Vascular Malformation Study Group: "An AVM is a tangle of abnormal and poorly formed blood vessels (arteries and veins). They have a higher rate of bleeding than normal vessels. AVMs can occur anywhere in the body. Brain AVMs are of special concern because of the damage they cause when they bleed. They are very rare and occur in less than 1% of the general population."
The risk of bleeding with AVM increases as a person ages. The typical age of discovery is between the ages of 20 to 40. Bleeding can often result in stroke, resulting in permanent disability and even death. There are treatments to reduce the risk of bleeding. The cause of AVM is unknown but it is believed to develop in utero and affects all races and genders.
Muslim Link took the opportunity to interview a young member of Ottawa's Muslim community Anne-Marie Lavallee, about her experience as someone with AVM in order to help our readers better understand a condition which, although rare, can have a serious impact on the lives of those who live with it.
"I was born in Georgetown, Guyana. I have had Rheumatoid Arthritis since the age of 6 and was diagnosed at age 10. I grew up with a condition but it never held me back. I like studying and education – I have a degree in psychology, I'm continuing with another degree and I'm working full time in the government [laughing]! I'm pursuing my second degree in sociology and anthropology and I'm really enjoying it. I'm a strong advocate for education. I have never felt held back by my condition and I hope I can be an example for others. Like they say, if you put your mind to it, you can achieve anything!... Make sure you tell them that I'm a very independent person!"