Chantelle faces sickness with smiles

At only four years old, Chantelle Tribe has been through more in her young life than most of us ever will.

Chantelle Tribe is all smiles at BC Children’s Hospital after receiving package of cards and gifts from a group of people working at Pharmasave in Grand Forks.

At only four years old, Chantelle Tribe has been through more in her young life than most of us ever will.

Chantelle developed a rare disease in her kidney and bile ducts at eight months and has had to endure several surgeries and procedures. Chantelle’s mother, Michelle Tribe, was born and raised in Grand Forks and moved to Kelowna where she met her husband Mike. Sadly, making matters worse is that Mike is undergoing his own difficult procedure: receiving chemotherapy for bladder cancer.

A friend of the family, Candace Campbell, has set up a gofundme account ( to help the family, which has so far raised an amazing $6,800 of the $10,000 goal.

“I can’t imagine the stress and strain that they are dealing with,” wrote Campbell, who was also raised in Grand Forks, on the gofundme page, “however, instead of sad faces we see nothing but smiles and cheerful words from them. Their strength during this time has inspired me and many others and we need to help them!”

Currently, Michelle and Chantelle are living at B.C. Children’s Hospital in Vancouver, while Mike is at home in Kelowna receiving chemotherapy. In addition, Michelle’s mother has been staying in Vancouver to support them.

“All the costs add up,” wrote Campbell. “They don’t have a kitchen so it is expensive to eat every day. They will have to face many challenges this year including lots of expense for travelling to and from Vancouver for Chantelle’s appointments.’

Chantelle was born in March of 2012. Mother Michelle said Chantelle was the picture of health until the following February when she was diagnosed with biliary atresia, a rare type of liver disease in which there is no known cause or cure.

“She was extremely jaundiced at that time,” said Michelle. “At eight weeks old she had a procedure done that saved her life called a kasai procedure. That was about an eight hour long surgery. The surgery was a success, thank goodness, and the jaundice went away. She was quite healthy for quite a while.”

Michelle said Chantelle has had a few recurrences of cholangitis, which is an infection in the small intestine that can affect the liver. “This past February she had a fever and looked jaundice as well,” said Michelle. “A fever is never good news for a baby with biliary atresia. We were admitted to Kelowna General on Feb. 12 and they did what they normally do when she has colangitis which is give her heavy, heavy doses of antibiotics.”

Michelle said the antibiotics weren’t working and Chantelle was tranferred to B.C. Children’s Hospital where they tried more antibiotics as well as steroids none of which worked. After running a battery of tests, doctors were able to determine that her biliary duct was almost completely obstructed.

“She’s had a few surgeries but actually what they have done is a completely new surgery,” said Michelle. “The head of surgery at children’s (Dr. Skarsgard) along with another doctor and they put their brains together and came up with this new surgery that can open up the biliary duct. Her liver is still healthy enough that it can last several years. Even though it’s obstructed it’s healthy enough that they want to preserve it. Otherwise they would’ve gone right to transplant.”

Michelle said Chantelle still has a few surgeries left but they are hoping she will be done by the end of June. “We are thankful that we can go home between the next procedures,” said Michelle.

Michelle’s parents still live in Grand Forks. Her mom, Karalee Warren, has been with the family in Vancouver offering support. “She comes at helps me at the hospital from sun up to sun down,” said Michelle. “She’s my extra pair of hands and my sanity when I’m down here. I couldn’t have done this with her. My faith has kept me strong but my mom has kept me sane.”

Michelle said Chantelle is feeling better after the surgeries. “Hopefully this will all work and she’ll be a perfectly healthy four-year with her original liver for several years,” said Michelle. “She may still need to have a liver transplant some day but hopefully this will postpone it for years and years.”

Michelle added that Chantelle has been very positive throughout this whole ordeal. “She’s very good,” said Michelle. “It’s a long road and sometimes she’s just done with people poking and prodding her. But she’s so positive and so brave and resilient—it’s just incredible. When she’s feeling good she’s just a hoot. She’s always making the nurses laugh.”