Meet Melanie
Southern Maryland 

Sydney Leader

2011-16

Hi everyone!!! My name is Melanie and I live with my parents and younger brother, Curtis. I also have an older sister, Amanda, who is going to college in Texas. For right now, my plan is to become a professional photographer.

 

I was diagnosed in 2012 at the end of my 5th grade year, and went through four 23 hour Boston braces until the summer of 2014 when I decided to switch over to a night brace. Unfortunately, my curve was stronger than the brace so on November 19, 2014, I underwent a T4-L4 spinal fusion. My surgery was done at John Hopkins in Baltimore by the amazing Dr. Ain.  At first I was really scared, but getting all the information I could beforehand helped me through, so it wasn’t so bad. I was really lucky. My surgery was supposed to take 8 hours but it only took 6.  I had a smooth recovery and was completely off my meds in less than 2 weeks after coming home. My scar is still a little pink, but it has faded a lot. Some people may hate their scars, but I like mine.  It runs from the bottom of my neck to the top of my hips and I think it’s part of what makes me unique.

 

With Sara leaving for college (we’ll miss you Sara… LOTS), I was asked if I’d like to take over the role as leader for our Southern Maryland group.  I love Curvy Girls and all that they do. They helped me through my journey with braces and surgery and gave me the confidence I needed to deal with the crazy day to day stuff (like school and clothes and people being weird). Now it’s my turn to help you… to help you find a way not to be ashamed or embarrassed about your brace or scar. Maybe do what I did… bedazzle and decorate your brace with stickers, markers, paint, anything you can find. Don’t be scared to show off your scar, because it’s part of what makes you YOU.

 

Sure, there will be days when you may want to throw your brace out the window or have a good long cry or scream at the top of your lungs (which I felt like doing plenty of times), but just remember--- it’s just a curvy back, it could be a lot worse. I look forward to seeing you at the meetings and I wish you good luck.

Senior Leader Sara

Sara Leader

 2010-15

Hey! I am Sara and I was diagnosed with scoliosis at the end of my 6th grade year. I wore a 23 hour Boston Brace diligently throughout 7th grade but my curve was just too aggressive and I had surgery on November 10th 2010, when I was in 8th grade. The surgery took 5 hours, and I grew 2 inches. My scar is now a beautiful, translucent pencil line, running all the way down my back. This scar tells the story of my choice to take away the pain of scoliosis and illustrates how I found my voice at a critical time. The surgery was a big deal, and I did encounter some complications, which made me doubt my decision at times. Years later, I understand this was the best decision I have ever made.

 

Curvy Girls really helped me to develop confidence and feel more comfortable about my situation. As a leader and active participant I see how Curvy Girls has given a voice and strength to members around the world. Now confident members, wear braces outside their shirts and dresses that expose surgery scars, something that used to intimidate me. My involvement with Curvy Girls helped me appreciate that scars and braces can be beautiful, and tell a story in which you can be your own hero. I hope that all struggling scoliosis patients can find Curvy Girls and be the hero/heroine of their scoliosis story.

 

Whatever your needs, we are here for you. As a Senior Leader, I provide support and consultation to other groups and Leaders. In 2015, I was appointed to Curvy Girls Board of Directors.

 

 

 

Meet Ashlyn & Lilly

Baltimore Maryland

My name is Ashlyn and I was diagnosed with scoliosis when I was 13-years-old and in 7th grade during a routine physical examination. I am in high school now. My doctor suspected this diagnosis because she is also diagnosed with scoliosis, and she referred me to the Johns Hopkins Pediatric Orthopedic Clinic for evaluation and treatment. The first time I went to Johns Hopkins I remember feeling overwhelmed and scared. I am an athlete. I play travel soccer and have aspirations to play this sport in college. I also enjoy running, previously played basketball competitively, and love being outdoors. At the time of my diagnosis, I was also performing the middle school musicals and plays.  My fear was that the treatment for my form of scoliosis would prevent me from continuing to do the things that I love. 

 

Soon into my scoliosis journey, I was recommended for a night brace and to begin the Schroth Method of physical therapy.  It was difficult adjusting to both of these forms of treatment, requiring lots of positivity, commitment and adjustment to my routine.  However, I was determined to do what I could to limit the change to my curve.  PT appointments were weekly and required me to be disciplined in completing these exercises at home everyday. Through physical therapy, I have learned a lot about my strengths and weaknesses and how to keep my back healthy, which has helped me as an athlete.  Adjusting to wearing a brace to bed every night was the bigger challenge.  I remember panicking when I tried on my brace for the first time, never imagining that I would be able to sleep soundly.  I remember first feeling embarrassed by my brace, wanting it out of sight except at night.  But with time, I have adjusted to wearing my night brace which I have been wearing now for 1 ½ years.  I have shared my scoliosis journey with my closest friends who have come to be some of my strongest supports.  My journey is not over.  I continue to do PT exercises daily, and I am still wearing a night brace, and there are days when this comes easier than others.

 

Being a Curvy Girls’ Leader allows me to help support and encourage others in their scoliosis journey, recognizing that no two journeys will be the same.  Through my journey, I have had the opportunity to assist in training doctors and providers on early detection and on my treatment process.  I have discovered that providing support, education and speaking about my treatment has empowered me to want to support others, and encourage others with scoliosis to persevere through their treatment while holding onto their goals and dreams.

Hi! My name is Lilly and I was diagnosed with scoliosis when I was 12 years old, during the summer of 6th grade. When my doctor told me I might have scoliosis and referred me to Johns Hopkins Pediatric Orthopedic Clinic for evaluation and treatment, I did not know what to think. At the time I did not even know what scoliosis was! My first evaluation my doctor explained that I had two slight curves and as long as they did not get worse than I would not have to wear a brace.

 

Throughout the school year I began to grow and my curves became worse. At my next appointment, the doctor informed me that my two curves had in fact gotten worse and they would only continue to get worse as my body grew. He told me the best option for me was to have surgery. I remember feeling very overwhelmed, sad, and scared. I am a dancer and was fearful that having surgery would restrict my passion and stop me from doing what I love. The summer before 6th grade I had my spinal fusion from my T4 to my T12 at Johns Hopkins Hospital.

 

Although going into surgery was very scary, I am very glad to have had the opportunity to help myself get better. After my surgery I met a friend who was going through the same thing as me in the hospital and we still talk to this day. I even grew three inches after my surgery! I am now 14 and two years after my surgery I have been able to continue to dance and even start cheerleading at my high school. I have become much more confident in my own skin after my surgery.

 

I wanted to start a group in my area with one of my best friends Ashlyn who also has scoliosis in order to be able to talk to others in our area who are going through the same situations as us. I am very passionate about talking to others who have gone through similar experiences, answering any questions, and supporting other girls like me. 

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