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In 2013, I didn’t just lose a friend; I lost someone much more than that. After knowing Eloise for a mere three years, the time and memories we shared together made me feel like we had known each other for a lifetime. We shared 5am swimming sessions, breakfasts, afternoon trainings, and extremely long, hot showers when we couldn’t stand the cold. As swimmers would know, your squad becomes your family. To me, Eloise became that and more.
Whilst I cherish all our memories, my favorite is Age Nationals 2013. Eloise fought tirelessly to make the qualifying time for the 50m freestyle and left us all anxious in the stands for the last race before nominations were due. I can tell you she was nervous. It was one of the most dramatic races I have ever seen, but yes she made the time and we were off to Adelaide! For both of us it was our first Nationals, and Eloise’s last. To be honest, we only wanted to qualify so we got the Age National uniforms, but going to Adelaide was a bonus! Adelaide Age Nationals 2013 will forever be ours.
On the 28th of August 2013 when we lost Eloise, the lives of her family, my family and the whole community changed forever. Something so rare had ended a life too soon – Wolff-Parkinson-White Syndrome. I found it hard to understand at the time and today I still struggle to comprehend why.
In the weeks after Eloise passed, I struggled to sleep. To help me understand what had happened medically to Eloise, my Mum took me to the local GP. My doctor offered me an ECG, so she could show me how the heart worked and remind me I had nothing to worry about.
That is when things became real.
We completed the ECG but my results were abnormal. I knew I shared many things with Eloise, but never in my wildest dreams did I think we would share a diagnosis of Wolff-Parkinson-White Syndrome. It is highly unlikely that that two young, fit and healthy girls in the same swimming program would have this condition- but we did. After numerous consultations with cardiologists and a series of tests, a decision was made. On the 3rd of October 2013, I was admitted to the Wesley Hospital for an ablation of the extra electrical pathway in my heart. On this day, the most frightening day of my life, I had only one thing to be grateful for. And that was Eloise.
I try not to think about how we lost Eloise long before her time - usually I cry with confusion as to why it happened to such an undeserving girl. I have many questions that I want answered but unfortunately they still remain questions. Many people feel Eloise’s absence in very different ways and for different reasons. Without Eloise, I would not have been aware of my diagnosis of Wolff-Parkinson-White and the effect it too could have had on my life.
Now, 3 years on, I share the Eloise Gannon Foundation with Eloise and her family. I am so excited to be involved in something that remembers Eloise in such a positive and powerful way.
As a 16 year old, I have experienced heartbreak that changed my childhood completely. Whilst I wish things were different everyday, the memories I share with Eloise I wouldn’t change for the world. I am one very lucky and proud girl to say I have Eloise as my angel xx
Shared by Boo Waters