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I was born with scoliosis and growing up, I had to deal with so much pain.

But I didn’t allow the pain to get in the way of my physical activities in school. I was in 4th year high school when my classmate’s sister, who was a physical therapist in San Pedro Hospital, Davao City, told me to see a doctor for my condition. I was surprised because I didn’t tell anyone about it. She just noticed my back. That was the first time I heard of ‘scoliosis’. She recommended me to a doctor in the hospital she worked in.

The result was no good. At 17 I was diagnosed with severe scoliosis. The doctor advised me to have an operation the soonest time possible before the curve gets worse. But it wasn’t that easy for the family back then.

My father died when I was seven while my mother, a housewife, takes care of my sister with special needs. So financially, we were really incapable for any check-up and further treatments. I took scholarship programs and part-time jobs. I tried selling RTWs, car washing, and a part-time position in an office. Since I also love dancing, I used that to also earn money. I auditioned and got in as one of the paid female dancers for Party @ the Fifth of Gaisano JS Ilustre Mall, Davao City.

But still we didn’t have that much money for my operation. My doctor told me to try physical therapy sessions instead. It cost 150 per session. I tried it at first but I found it difficult to sustain. I swore to myself that after graduation when I have a more stable income, I will work on the treatments for my back.

I moved to Cebu City after graduation. My work-house-errand kind of lifestyle there took a toll on my body and got me paralyzed for three days. My body was looking for some physical activities it was used to. And so, paired with Chiropractor sessions that suit me well, I decided to do what my body enjoys best.

I jogged, I walked. I started with 3km fun runs, then 5km, then 7km, and 10km, 12 km, until 15km. But I felt that I could do more and so practiced more for the 21km. I was so happy when I held that finisher’s medal! I didn’t stop there. I joined the 40km marathon and the 50km ultra marathon. I joined major climbs, even climbing for days with a heavy backpack on. The pain was there but I conquered on.

In 2012, I met Ms Amanda Bonife-Kiamko, founder of Scoliosis Philippines through the scoliosis meet-up here in Cebu. We decided to start campaigning for scoliosis awareness. When she moved to Davao City, I dealt with the campaign activities here in Cebu. We started with five members only and now we continually grow through the page and the support group.

In 2019, I initiated the Run to Fight Scoliosis where we also had free screenings. It was a success, we were able to raise awareness about what scoliosis is.

It is through discipline that we can do all these. No brace, no surgery but I was able to decrease my curvature from 36 to 32 degrees. It takes a lot of effort and courage. Now, I work from home as a team leader in a call center here in Cebu. My back would sometimes hurt with hours of sitting down but I always see to it that I do stretches and exercises regularly.

Discipline is the key!

Gwendale Ave
Scoliosis Philippines Cebu Chapter Head

How about you? What’s your scoliosis story?

#BentNotBroken
#ScoliosisAwareness
#ScoliosisWarrior

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