Courage To Come Back: Medical award recipient wouldn’t take no for an answer

Fashion designer, entrepreneur, volunteer, and paraplegic: Our series of profiles on the recipients of the 2022 Courage To Come Back Awards begins with the winner in the Medical category.

Chloe Angus of Vancouver was out for a run one Sunday afternoon in 2015 when something didn’t feel quite right.

“I limped home because my right hip started to ache really badly and, unfortunately, the pain got worse that evening and the toes on my right foot went numb,” she said.

Before long she had lost feeling in both legs. An emergency MRI revealed a rare tumour in her spine. Soon, life as she knew it was changed forever.

“It was incredibly challenging and humbling to be honest with you to face the daily routine of even getting out of bed, of learning how to wiggle into your pants again,” she said. “I’m six years into my spinal cord injury and I’m still getting used to it. It’s incredibly challenging.”

A doctor had told her to get used to the idea of spending the rest of her life in a wheelchair. That was a fate she was not willing to accept.

“You know how it feels to fly 14 hours in coach, your back is sore and your legs, you just want to stretch them out? You can’t wait to get out of that airplane seat? Well, imagine living in that airplane seat for the rest of your life,” she explained.

“I couldn’t imagine that that’s where I was going to go from my everyday life of living this fashion designer lifestyle, sashaying down runways and red carpets, and literally running a fashion design company,” Chloe told CityNews. “I didn’t see that it was conducive to my lifestyle at all. And my first thought was, ‘Oh, I can fix this.’ Pretty quickly after that doctor left my hospital room, I got onto Google and started looking at how I was going to change this or make it better.”

Her Googling eventually led her to researchers at Simon Fraser University who were developing a wearable exoskeleton.

“With the technology that I had seen, I all of a sudden had hope that there was going to be something more than the spinal cord injury and the wheelchair.”

She later got to try one at the GF Strong Rehabilitation Centre.

“It didn’t matter to me that my legs were not doing it for me, what mattered is that I was standing up and walking.”

Chloe Angus sits in her wheelchair next to a wearable exoskeleton

Chloe Angus of Vancouver is the 2022 Courage To Come Back Awards winner in the Medical category.

Today, she advocates to raise the level of care in B.C. for all spinal cord injury patients.

“Don’t be afraid to fight. Fight for what you know you need. If it’s not there, it doesn’t mean it’s not possible.”

Chloe credits friends and family for giving her the strength to fight.

“It’s been an incredible journey and I just encourage people to be strong, be patient, and be heard.”

While Chloe is honoured to receive her Courage To Come Back award, she says she is only getting started.

“I still feel like I have so far to go. And I still feel like I have so much work to do to make things better for myself and for everybody else.”

CityNews 1130 is a proud sponsor of the Coast Mental Health Courage To Come Back Awards, which raise critical funds for British Columbians living with mental illness.

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