'I always told myself that I can': Woman dragged several blocks by vehicle gives update on recovery a year after life-altering accident
VANCOUVER -- One year after being dragged under a van for several blocks in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside, 25-year-old Desiree Evancio is giving the public a glimpse into how she is doing.
"When you go through so many surgeries it just kind of blurs together, but at the same time, each is so different," Evancio said, speaking exclusively to CTV News.
Shortly after midnight on Saturday, Oct. 12, 2019, Evancio was crossing East Hastings Street at Jackson Avenue when she was dragged, sustaining life-altering injuries.
Evancio has no memory of that night or the weeks that followed.
"My first memory was probably a month later," said Evancio.
Doctors expected her to be in the hospital for six months to a year, but Evancio had other plans.
"I knew that there were days ahead and I had to keep on trying, I guess, as hard as I could try to make the most of it and come out better and stronger," said Evancio.
Unsurprising to Evancio's sister, Ashley Dahn, she was released from hospital after just two months.
"It just shows how strong she really is and essentially where she wants to go is where she ended up going," Danh said.
To date, Desiree estimates she has had over 20 surgeries and will undergo more. Her next surgery is scheduled for next month.
"I still have a gap in my skull so they are filling it and kind of reconstructing the bone that I am missing in my face as well," said Evancio.
"Luckily I have a great team of doctors and they are amazing in everything that they do."
There is no question that she is a survivor and, with her strong will to live, continues to beat the odds.
"Every time I meet a new doctor that's heard my story I show them how much movement I have and they are just blown away and I think it's because I always told myself that I can," Evancio said.
Getting to where she is has taken a strong support system. Evancio continues to have her family, friends, and pets Mr. Mann and Kyro, by her side. But it's also been strangers helping her through the dark times.
"Sometimes when I feel bad I just go back and re-read messages. All the support and the prayers that people were sending was magical. Thank you to everyone I already haven't said thank you to, thank you to everyone that didn't even reach out but thought of me. It really meant the world to me," said Evancio.
An online fundraiser has raised more than $281,000 and counting. She says that financial support has lifted a burden off of her shoulders and given her the freedom to focus on her recovery without worrying about how she will pay her bills.
"It helped a lot, Evancio said.
And when she had to spend her birthday in the hospital, letters helped her through it.
"I got letters delivered to my room in the hospital from people from the U.K., from the island. The hearts on people… It's just faith in humanity restored, you know?" Evancio said.
Each day is different, some harder than others.
"Some days it really bothers me and some days it doesn't. I don't know until I actually go out and see people. The people staring at me is the hardest because they look at my injuries and not me," said Evancio.
But through it all, she maintains a positive attitude and a hopeful outlook.
"Life is so beautiful and I'm still here to see and be part of all the little things that people take for granted every day," said Evancio.
Her road to recovery is far from over. In the meantime, she's appreciating the victories.
"I can still walk. I might not be able to eat not yet. I have to blend all my food. I've gotten really good at it. Now I know what tastes good – basically anything spicy," Evancio said.
And she's looking forward to the future.
"I'm a huge foodie. I have a whole list of foods I'm going to eat when I chew again. I'm really excited to eat like a steak and just like chips," said Evancio.
The accident may have changed her appearance but she's not letting it change her spirit.
"My stubbornness came in handy," she said.