“It is only when you lose something that you realize how much you want it. Most dancers start dancing at a young age, but it was not until the end of high school that I discovered my true passion in life: movement and the body. I had excelled in sports, from basketball to track and field to wake boarding, but dance combined my natural athletic ability with an emotional expression that gave me true meaning and purpose.
I entered my college years majoring in modern dance and pre-med. It was then that the pain started. It began in my lower back, and then radiated out through my hip into my right leg. I had numerous MRIs and visited multiple doctors and specialists, but the diagnosis was inconclusive. It was only when I went to see Dr. Bryan Kelly, an orthopedic surgeon at the Hospital for Special Surgeries in New York who had worked with dancers before, that I was properly diagnosed: a bone spur in my right hip had severed my labrum, a rim of soft tissue or fibrocartilage that surrounds the hip joint. I could not sleep, it was painful to walk – I could barely lift up my foot without being in excruciating pain.
I planned to take time off school and have surgery during my sophomore year. But in the fall of that year, I woke up one day and I was completely numb. I had lost all motor control in my arms and legs. Although this sensation soon passed, I was terrified. As the symptoms of numbness and shocks going through my body worsened, I sought out medical care. An MRI revealed two discs in my neck were completely herniated and pushing on the spinal cord. After consulting two spine surgeons I was referred to Dr. Cantor. I immediately trusted Dr. Cantor as he was very confident that he could perform surgery leaving me mobile and flexible again. He was incredibly generous with his time, explaining the unique procedure he would undertake using minimally invasive ultrasonic tools and working out the best course of action for me. He put my parents and me completely at ease and I trusted him implicitly. He also assured me that although it may feel different, I could dance again one day.
Three months after neck surgery with Dr. Cantor, I travelled back to New York to finally have hip surgery to remove the bone spur. It was a two-year period of recovery to get back to physically moving as an artist and a life-changing journey of self discovery. When I returned to college unable to physically dance, I began increasing the scope of my intellectual passions and picked up a religion double major with an English minor. I started to seriously research and work with movement as a healing art form, a contemplative practice, and a means for creating dialogue to help humans confront the environmental problems hurting our planet. I was determined to put this time away from physically dancing to good use and I learned as much as I could about anatomy and how to take care of my body holistically. I used Pilates, yoga, physical therapy, myofascial release body work, and the Gyrotonic Expansion System®. Gyrotonic, designed by Juliu Horvath, is an incredible holistic movement and exercise regime that enables natural range of motion through the whole body, increases strength, flexibility and coordination, and improves nervous system health. This is my latest passion and I am now studying to become a Gyrokinesis and Gyrotonic instructor and yoga teacher.
January 26th, 2016 will mark five years since cervical spine and hip surgery. I am humbled to dance at a professional level again and believe I am better than ever. But I’ll let you be the judge of that – click here to watch my latest video.
After the physical and emotional trauma my body has been through, I cannot express how grateful I am to Dr. Cantor and his team for helping me get my life back on track. I turned my suffering into a respect for the life I was given and became aware how all of life, including our planet, deserves our love, compassion, respect and awareness. Surgery was definitely one the most transformative things that ever happened to me!”