My name is Sierra Donovan, and I was diagnosed with scoliosis in the middle of my seventh grade. At the time I was an Irish dancer and was competing in various championships ranging from Regionals to Worlds. I didn’t mind having scoliosis because I could still dance and compete like everyone else. This started to change once my curvature worsened to 58 degrees on top and 30 degrees on bottom, and it became evident that surgery would be necessary to correct my “S” shaped spine. I noticed difficulty breathing when I danced due to the rotation of my ribs, so I used this as motivation to get the operation. Leading up to my surgery, I focused on the idea of “getting fixed” and living a life scoliosis free. My family and I called it my height enhancement surgery, as that was a much more fun way to approach it.
My surgery was during my freshman year in January of 2016, and I cannot thank Dr.Widmann and HSS enough for the incredible treatment I received. Although the recovery was tough and the surgery was a big one, Dr. Widmann and the other staff made me feel assured and comfortable the entire time. I went back to school after a month and returned to dancing by May.
Coming back to dance I was able to fully recover and return to the same level of training and competitions. I had traveled to Ireland for the Worlds one year after my surgery, but decided after 10 years of dancing I wanted to start something new. Motivated to prove my strength post-surgery, I joined the spring track team mid-season at the end of my sophomore year. Immediately, running became my new passion and the rods and screws in my spine inspired me to get faster everyday. Now as a senior, I will be running at the 2019 New Balance Nationals on a relay team, and I will also be running collegiately for the next four years. Overcoming the obstacles of back surgery gave me the confidence to take on new challenges, so I will forever be grateful for the second chance Dr. Widmann gave me as an athlete.