2024 – Awardee – Madelyne Fowles – Viewmont HS

Mar 26, 2024

Madelyne’s Story

I have had to overcome many obstacles in my life beginning with my birth. I was born at 26 weeks gestation which is 14 weeks early. I weighed 1 lb. 11 oz and was considered a micro preemie. Due to my extreme prematurity, I suffered a brain hemorrhage which the doctors later determined was a grade 3 out of 4 with a grade 4 being extremely severe.  As a result of my hemorrhage, I have a condition called post hemorrhagic hydrocephalus, which is fluid on my brain. In order to alleviate the pressure that builds up from the fluid, I have a shunt system in my brain which I will need to have for the remainder of my life.  Upon receiving this diagnosis of the brain hemorrhage, my parents were told that I would likely not be “normal” and I would possibly fail to meet typical milestones and that my learning ability would be affected.  Despite this grim prognosis, I have exceeded everyone’s expectations, including my neurosurgeon.  Each time I see him, he marvels at how well I have done despite all the odds against me.   I have had many surgeries in my life as a result of my premature birth. By the age of sixteen, I had twelve surgeries, eight of which were brain surgeries. I have also had four eye surgeries to help with my eyesight. The first surgery was done to prevent blindness and the remainder were to help with my depth perception and muscle alignment both which were due to the brain hemorrhage at birth. By far the hardest brain surgery I’ve had to date occurred just a few weeks into my junior year of high school. They shaved a significant portion of my head for the surgery and that was very traumatizing to me. Unfortunately, within a 10-week period, I had to endure two more brain surgeries.  All 3 surgeries were unexpected, and each recovery took about 4 weeks so just as I was starting to feel better, I was faced with another surgery.  Even though I missed quite a bit of school for medical reasons during my junior year, I still earned a 4.0 that semester.  In 2019, I was diagnosed with celiac disease. This has been a hard diagnosis because it is a whole lifestyle change and something I’ve had to adapt too. In October of 2021, I was diagnosed with Juvenile arthritis.  This diagnosis has been challenging as well as I’ve had to deal with knee pain and receiving my medication through injections. Although I’ve faced many health challenges, I have tried hard to work hard and do my best even when I’m not feeling great. I try to tell myself when things feel really hard that it won’t stay that way forever.  Having this mindset has helped me push through and overcome.  I went to therapy and while I was doing these sessions with my therapist, they taught me some breathing exercises such as the box breathing method and mindfulness as tools to help me when I was feeling overwhelmed or anxious and those methods have helped me when things got tough. Some words of encouragement I would give would be to have a positive mindset. Having a positive mindset will help you keep going and push through the obstacle. Things may seem difficult in the moment but that will change, and they will not be as difficult just keep pushing through it.

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