An 18-year-old who was diagnosed with a deep curve in her spine at the age of 12 has revealed how she’s undergone a nine-hour operation to straighten it – and says she can’t wait to hit the dancefloor.
Student Macey Brooks, from Wigan, spent much of her teenage years keeping her scoliosis – abnormal curvature of the spine – a secret from friends and classmates.
However, after enduring a nine-hour operation at Liverpool’s Alder Hey hospital on January 13th, which saw her have three ribs removed and two rods and 20 pins added, she’s now shared her story on her
Celebrities including Katie Piper and Nicola McClean have posted on their pages Macey’s story, and she hopes she can encourage people to share their own stories and embrace their scars.
Macey Brooks, from Wigan, was diagnosed with scoliosis at the age of 12 but didn’t want to tell her friends and classmates about her condition, even hiding it while performing in theatre and musical performances
From the age of 12 to 18, her spine went from having a 40 per cent curve to an 80 per cent curve before surgery to correct it in January this year
Five weeks since the nine-hour operation, Macey says she feels the surgery – which put two rods in her back – ‘has already changed my life’
After a normal childhood, Macey, who lives with her parents Patsy and Andy and younger brother Macauley, says her scoliosis began to take hold as her body reached puberty, with the S-shaped curve increasing from 40 per cent to 80 per cent.
Most children with scoliosis do not require treatment as it is mild and corrects itself as the child grows. However, in severe cases the child may need to wear a back brace until they stop growing or less frequently, an operation is required to straighten the spine.
The dancing and musical theatre fan said she hid her condition from many of her friends, something that would cause deep anxiety.
Macey told FEMAIL: ‘I am so grateful to have had many opportunities to perform in many shows. Naturally, I would worry that my scoliosis would be recognised, it was always there causing me great anxiety.’
The teen says she would smile bravely and try to ‘disguise my insecurities and not let it shadow or hinder my performance.
‘Nobody every questioned my posture but I was always conscious that it was so blatant, I guess I just trained my body to subconsciously hold itself when necessary or stand a certain way when on a photograph. I embraced my body and the changes it displayed, I had to accept it from such a young age.’
There was also the physical aspect of her curved spine, which meant she frequently suffered from aches in her upper body.
Made Head Girl during her time at Cansfield High School, she said she was forced to face up to insecurities about her physique.
The A-level student pictured in hospital recovering from the surgery on her spine. She says: ‘I feel so much more healthy in my self and definitely can breathe a lot easier!’
With unconditional offers for a university place later in the year, Macey says she’d love to pursue a career in broadcasting
What is scoliosis?
Scoliosis is the abnormal curvature of the spine in an S-shape.
Signs include a visible curve in the spine, one shoulder or hip being more prominent than the other, clothes not hanging properly and back pain.
Pain usually only affects adults with the condition.
In most cases, the cause of the scoliosis is not known but it can be caused by cerebral palsy and muscular dystrophy.
In the UK, scoliosis affects three to four children could of every 1,000.
It is also thought that as many as 70 per cent of over 65s have some degree of scoliosis.
It is more common in women than in men.
Most children with the condition do not require treatment as it is mild and corrects itself as the child grows.
However, in severe cases the child may need to wear a back brace until they stop growing.
Occasionally, a child needs surgery to straighten their spine.
In adults, it is usually too late to treat the condition with a back brace or surgery so treatment revolves around reducing pain.
‘Being head girl brought me many opportunities to represent myself and the school; including public speaking where I knew large audiences would be focused on me. I had to stand tall – as tall as I comfortably could – with no option to hide away.’
Now five weeks into her recovery, Macey says the surgery had already changed her life and that she feels ‘so much more healthy in myself and I can definitely breathe a lot more easily!’
She says being honest about her condition has been difficult but something she’s pleased she did.
‘Sharing my story has been huge for me as even some of my closest friends and family were unaware I was living with scoliosis. I decided to share, to reach out to as many as I could to hopefully raise awareness, to encourage others to embrace their bodies, scars, anything they deem as an imperfection.’
The 18-year-old says she hopes by speaking out about her own story, she can raise awareness and encourage others to ’embrace their bodies, scars, anything they deem as an imperfection’
Macey, who says she’d love a career in broadcasting and has had unconditional university offers, says she hopes to inspire others to speak up about similar adversities they’ve faced.
‘My message is simple – please have the strength and courage to embrace your imperfections, be proud of your body and your scars as they tell your story and make you who you are!
‘Remember nobody is perfect, life isn’t filtered; so be grateful, don’t judge and be proud to be you. A smile can hide a multitude of battles, so be kind – always.’
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