Sarah Atwell was a healthy and happy baby. Many parents worry that their babies will be born with complications or face health problems from the moment they’re born. Sarah’s parents were no different.
But when she was just a toddler, Sarah began to change.
Her stepdad noticed that her face was shifting. Specifically, the right side of her face was beginning to droop. It wasn’t long before Sarah’s mom Tara began to see the change as well.
Sarah’s parents couldn’t explain what was happening to their daughter, so they did what good parents do and brought their daughter to the doctor.
Sarah and her family quickly learned that she was living with neurofibromatosis, which is a genetic disorder. Neurofibromatosis cause tumors to grow on nerve tissue and it can affect any part of the nervous system.
It’s a rare disorder, but one that changed Sarah’s life dramatically.
While the tumors that form are typically noncancerous, they can cause complications ranging from intense pain to cardiovascular problems. In Sarah’s case, she had a tumor growing on her face. The tumor was causing her face to droop.
Sarah’s tumor is noncancerous, which means it doesn’t pose any immediate health issues. But the pain that it has caused her has been largely emotional.
Growing up with a large tumor on her face meant that Sarah was bullied constantly and mercilessly.
With the help of her parents, she sought out cosmetic surgery to remove the tumor. But doctors refused to help her because the process of removing the tumor could endanger her health.
Sarah endured the bullying until she was 17, when she decided to speak out.
Sarah’s video, where she reveals the damage that this bullying has caused, went viral. Suddenly, she was overwhelmed with support.
Because of her video, a doctor finally agreed to work with her to remove her tumor.
Her bravery in talking openly about her emotional experience has changed her life.
Sarah’s parents, who have always been her cheerleaders, were deeply touched by her video. I am also moved by her honestly and resiliency.