In Sept. of 2009, eleven years of cheerleading came to a screeching halt when a prominent pop in my right knee interrupted the landing of my tumbling pass. A jolt of pain traveled through my body, and suddenly I was incapable of standing up. My mother and my coach gazed down at me with water-filled eyes. In that moment, I realized that everything I once knew would be different.
The following day I had an appointment with Andrews Sports Medicine (ASM) where the daunting questions I had were answered. I had torn my right ACL and lateral and medial meniscus.
After receiving confirmation from the MRI, Dr. Dugas walked me through the surgical procedure. Fear battled its way into my eyes as he spoke, and I questioned my ability to fight through a minimal six-month recovery. Dr. Dugas assured me that I would be back doing what I loved and exceedingly more. I chose to trust him, and on Sept. 17, 2009, I began my journey to recovery.
I began physical therapy at Champion Sports Medicine (CSM) under the supervision of physical therapist, Lenny Macrina. I progressed quickly during the first two weeks, however a build-up of scar tissue later forced my knee to reject movement. Dr. Dugas responded immediately, attending my PT sessions to assess the problem.
My six-month journey quickly evolved into a near ten-month process. However, I never fought alone. Dr. Dugas and Lenny made themselves completely available to me. They fought with me through tears and celebrated even the smallest victories. They met me with patience as I relearned how to run and pushed me beyond what I believed I was capable of.
Almost seven years later, I am completing my third year of cheering at an SEC Division I school. Running is an active part of my every-day life and last year I spent a week skiing in the snowy slopes of CO. Dr. Dugas’ words came to life after several years of work, patience, and discipline. Everything I did before my surgery, I have done again- without the help of any brace.
At the time of my injury, I understood healing would require a physical process of discipline and vulnerability. However, I was unaware that this physical process would involve a defining emotional and spiritual journey as well. As a young high school girl, God began to redefine my life by showing me that my value was not in what I did, but who He made me to be.
I experienced the love of Christ in a tangible way and realized that my brokenness opened me up to encounter the beautiful power of His healing and strength. The pain I endured gave me a small glimpse into the brutality my Savior Jesus Christ endured for me. My suffering did not separate me from the love of God. Rather, it enabled me to draw close to Him and know Him intimately.
When I felt alone and completely abandoned, Jesus understood the pain I endured that was far beyond physical. He became my greatest comfort and peace. Every hour of PT, every tear that fell from my face, and every opportunity missed due to my injury was completely worth the encounter I had with the healing power of Jesus Christ.
My scar is now my favorite asset. It does not resemble pain; rather it serves as a significant reminder that I have been healed. In this ten-month journey I learned that life is not something that can be done alone. Pain cannot be endured in isolation, and celebrations require people. The immeasurably more I am able to experience today would not be possible without the constant encouragement of my loving family, the intentionality of my surgeon and PT, and the grace of a perfect Savior.
My “Comeback Story” is simple: God chose to use people to mend me physically, so that I would be made whole emotionally and spiritually. My scar is a reminder that I have been marked by the perfect love of Christ.