PEI

From spinal surgery to dance parties: Twin girls with cerebral palsy staying positive, parents say

If it weren’t for the long scar down the middle of their backs — or the “lower case L,” as they like to call it — you’d never know six-year-old twins Katelyn and Meghan Rogers were four months removed from spinal surgery that left them unable to roll over.

'They really do try their best and enjoy every day as much as they can'

Meghan and Katelyn Rogers 0:11

If it weren't for the long scar down the middle of their backs — or the "lower case L," as they like to tell people — you'd never know six-year-old twins Katelyn and Meghan Rogers were four months removed from spinal surgery that left them unable to roll over.

Now they laugh, play and have disco dance parties in their living room.

The walking? It's more or less where they were before the surgery, say their parents, Kevin and Andrea Rogers. They said the girls' legs are straighter and their strides have improved, though they still need canes or walkers to get around, and the braces on their ankles won't be coming off anytime soon.

"They've been doing really well, they've been working really hard," Andrea said, admitting she tries not to add a "but" when people ask how they are doing overall.

"I think we're all doing the best we can."

Meghan, left, and Katelyn don't see themselves as different from other children, their mother says. (Shane Ross/CBC)

The girls, who have cerebral palsy, had the surgery to improve their mobility. After spending two months in a Montreal hospital learning to crawl and then walk all over again, they returned to their home in Cornwall, P.E.I., in mid-March.

They go to physiotherapy three times a week, when they're not in their Grade 1 class at Westwood Elementary. It's a hectic schedule, Andrea said, especially when she and Kevin are trying to juggle their careers, as well.

They don't see themselves as being, you know, broken and needing fixing.— Andrea Rogers

"Our schedules are really tight which doesn't leave a lot of time at the end of the day for just the regular things that you want to do as a couple or as a family. We're just busy just managing the day to day stuff right now. But it's a phase and this too shall pass."

Through it all, Andrea said, the girls have remained remarkably positive.

"They don't understand that they're different than other kids, they don't know that they have cerebral palsy," she said.

"It's not something we've talked about openly, we figure we'll have that conversation when the time comes. So right now they don't see themselves as being, you know, broken and needing fixing."

The Rogers family, from left, Andrea, Meghan, Katelyn and Kevin, say they are are happy to be home on P.E.I. after two months at a Montreal hospital. (Shane Ross/CBC)

Kevin said he's proud of how they've handled it all.

"They really do try their best and enjoy every day as much as they can, even though they can struggle to get around and do some everyday things."

'Make movement fun'

That's why when the girls want to dance, Kevin and Andrea are more than happy to hold their hands, crank the tunes and bust a move.

"We try to just dance and make movement fun as much as we can because so much of movement for them is work," Andrea said.

Meghan, left, and Katelyn play with their doll house. But instead of a house, it's a hospital. (Shane Ross/CBC)

The dance parties are a tradition that started when they were recovering from surgery at the Shriners Hospital in Montreal. On Saturday nights, the girls would invite other patients to the hospital's play room to dance, Andrea said.

"There were some that would come in their bed, because that's the stage they were at, others in wheelchairs, these guys in walkers and we would have glow sticks and dance and that has continued since we have come home."

Katelyn shows how she uses a walker to get around. Her parents hope she'll eventually be able to walk on her own. (Tom Steepe/CBC)

They're all happy to be home on P.E.I. surrounded by love and support, they said. 

And while the girls still have a long road to recovery ahead of them, if all goes as planned, they'll be dancing for years to come.

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About the Author

Shane Ross is a former newspaper and TV journalist in Halifax, Ottawa and Charlottetown. He joined CBC P.E.I.'s web team in 2016.

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