In 2009, at the age of 12, I was diagnosed with severe scoliosis. After consulting with several doctors, it was decided the only effective course of treatment would be surgery. So, in December of that year, I underwent a 10 ½ hour surgery to remove a rib, fuse my spinal discs from T-3 to L-4, and have two titanium rods and 28 screws inserted into my spine. It was a frightening experience, and I was unsure of what kind of life I would have after surgery.
Would I be normal, and most importantly, would I be able to dance again?
I had been a dancer my whole life, with dreams of someday representing my school on the varsity dance team. I was determined not to let my limitation stop me, and after a lot of hard work, I returned to dance only 3 months after surgery. I recently completed my senior year on varsity, and over the past three years, I have contributed to two State championships, two Regional grand championships, and I was named to the Oklahoma State Dance Team Directors’ Association Eastern Regional Team. I was also named Senior of the Year by my teammates. It wasn’t always easy. Imagine trying to dance with two rods and 28 screws in your spine! I had to work a lot harder than my teammates to achieve the same level of ability, and there have been plenty of frustrations and disappointments along the way.
But, I’ve been determined to never give up, and to be an example to others that limitations don’t have to get in the way of your dreams.
Ashlyn's surgery was performed by Dr. Richard Hostin at Baylor Southwest Scoliosis Institute Plano, Texas