Love Your Life

Anna - Havertown, Pennsylvania
Entered on October 7, 2009
Age Group: Under 18
Themes: carpe diem
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I believe that you should live your life to the fullest, no matter what life throws at you. When I was a baby, I was diagnosed with neurofibromatosis (neuro-fibro-ma-toe-sis), also known as NF. I have NF type1, the most commonly known form of NF. I have a benign tumor in my right leg and foot. Doctors instantly knew I had NF from the brown marks I have on my body and from my enlarged right leg. From the time I was very young, I underwent countless MRI’s to make sure the tumor was not growing or spreading to other parts of my body. But, having neurofibromatosis has not stopped me from going on with my daily activities. It hasn’t stopped me from playing soccer and being with my friends. Ultimately, I’ve gained knowledge of coping with all the problems big or small that have come up in my life.

When I was five years old, the doctors discovered I had scoliosis, a common symptom of NF, where your spine curves in either an “S” or a “C.” In my case, my spine scrolled like a “S.” Doctors knew that surgery was out of the question, since I was so young. During the years I waited, I wore a back brace 24/7 that also went around my neck because the curve of my spine was so high up in my neck. I hated wearing the back brace, but I continued to go about my daily life, going to school, hanging out with friends, participating in after school activities, and playing soccer. I knew that if I really begged my parents, they would give in, and let me go without my brace on special occasions. This could have been anything from going to a sleepover, going to birthday parties to going on a field trip for school; sometimes just to be able to run and play outside.

By fourth grade, my spine had curved even more and was becoming a problem; the back brace had worked for a while, but the curve progressed. Doctors finally made the decision to perform the surgery to correct my spine. It was not going to be easy and I would have to have a lot of physical therapy after the operation. My doctor had to implant two titanium rods in my spine to correct the curve. After the eight hour surgery, I had to wear a back brace again that summer, until my back was fully healed. Once again, I went about my daily life. I still went to the Cayman Islands that summer of 2004 and resorted to relaxing on the beach in a hammock all day, reading books and getting tan. At this point in my recuperation, I was allowed to take my brace off and wade in the pool, but I couldn’t swim around. Despite my situation, I found my own way to cool off and have fun.

I still have scoliosis, but the degree of the curve is not as severe. I am so lucky to have met amazing doctors that performed a miracle. I can still do things I love to do. But, my doctor said I can’t downhill ski, not that I would ever do that, or horseback ride, something I wish I could have tried. Despite these restrictions there are plenty of ways to live a for filled life. If not skiing, than going to an art museum, if not skateboarding, than going to a concert. Having NF and scoliosis has made me more aware of people with similar problems and disabilities. I am more sensitive to their need to be included. Sometimes a disability or health issue can stop you from doing typical daily activities, but it doesn’t mean you can’t life a full, happy life. I believe that you shouldn’t let adversities stop you from enjoying your life. Whether it is an illness, a death in the family or you are just having a bad day, it shouldn’t stop you from doing the things you love to do every day.