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news item Friday, June 30, 2017 Monday, June 10, 2019 9:08 AM - Monday, June 10, 2019 9:08 AM

Katy - Inspiring others to stay strong and positive

Scoliosis superhero! Patient shares her experience to help others

KatySixteen-year-old Katy was diagnosed with scoliosis at birth, but it was not until an adolescent growth spurt that she started to experience symptoms.

“That’s when the pain got bad. I started to notice some postural changes and breathing problems,” says Katy. She saw a series of doctors who all offered little encouragement, but instead, focused on informing her of what she would not be able to do because of her scoliosis.

“We heard some scary things along the way. One doctor said I would ultimately not be able to walk or sing,” Katy remembered. Eventually Katy saw spine surgeon Stephen Santora, M.D., at Shriners Hospitals for Children — Salt Lake City. “He helped me get my life back,” she said.

Dr. Santora performed spinal fusion surgery on Katy to repair a 68-degree curve, in the fall of 2015. After a recovery that Katy calls a “bumpy road”, the teen now says she’s realizing her dreams. Katy loves to sing and even made it to the second round of the non-televised pre-auditions on NBC’s singing competition The Voice. She also loves to help others, which she does as a disability advocate on social media.

Katy says scoliosis helped her develop a strong sense of empathy, perseverance and bravery. She documents her experiences on Instagram under the profile @Scoliosis.Superhero. She has more than 1,000 followers, including many teen girls with scoliosis, seeking encouragement and advice. She is now branching out to include other conditions and to become a champion against bullying.

Katy says Shriners Hospitals’ doctors and staff are like family to her. "We have been blessed by Shriners Hospitals for Children. I feel the love there…it feels more like home than any other hospital I’ve ever been to. Scoliosis doesn’t define me, but I believe scoliosis has made me stronger.”