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Happy Leg Day!

Today marks the 6 year anniversary of a surgery on my leg. It has turned into a true holiday for me, and something that I love to celebrate! 

I had “shin splints” in my right lower leg for a couple years, beginning in PT school and continuing in the first year after graduating. I’ve always been an active person, enjoying sports and personal exercise, so I noticed when my leg felt some sharp pains during running and jumping. I studied this exact injury in all of my classes, so I prescribed myself the treatments….rest, stretching, healing modalities, techniques to loosen up the surrounding soft tissue that was pulling too much on its attachment to the bone. 

Nothing worked. 

I ran a half marathon with the very sharp, localized pain that eventually dulled to an aching numbness. Then I gladly took a full 6 months off of exercising. When I returned, the exact pain was still present. I felt like something was wrong. Not only did it not “make sense” to my academic brain, I could feel that my body didn’t feel quite right. 

The day that a doctor showed me and Nathan the x-ray of my leg with a tumor in my tibia bone was a weird day. How can you feel every single emotion at once?! 

Validation. Surprise. But not really surprised. Fear. Confusion. Expectant. Angry.

We traveled to Little Rock to see a recommended doctor, Dr. Montgomery at UAMS Orthopedic Oncology department. This man was such a blessing as he expertly and very kindly explained the testing and diagnosis of the tumor in my leg. (Also the entire staff at this hospital was incredible!! This is a place filled with sickness and sadness, but every single person offered kindness and a smile. Truly remarkable.) 

The diagnosis was a rare type of malignant tumor that needed to be immediately removed from my body. It also unfortunately had no known form of successful radiation treatments. 

We scheduled the surgery for as soon as possible after the diagnosis, within the next two weeks. And then those two weeks were filled with yet more emotions. All extremes. I wondered what Nathan’s new wife would look like after I passed. I cried out of fear and asked God for help. I listened to worship music and found a song that makes me weep to this day, no matter where I am, “Do it Again” by Elevation Worship. I would sing this song on my drive to work, begging to have a heart that felt those words, and then I’d clean myself up before walking into the clinic to treat patients. 

The day of the surgery arrived. We had spent the night at a hotel in Little Rock very close to the hospital. We had family in town, but Nathan and I enjoyed some quiet and intentional time together in the hours before. As we were getting ready that morning, I called my Grandma Ramsey on the phone. 

Grandma Ramsey was My Person. She made me feel deeply known and unconditionally loved. 

I hope everyone in the world has that person that makes them feel so loved and accepted. Grandma was that person for so many people, and my biggest role model in life. 

So that morning I called her to say hi and looked for some courage from her. She absolutely gave me that courage and hope as she told me that morning, "Oh honey, I know everything is going to be fine today. I've been talking to God about it, and He has more for you to do in this world, so you are going to be ok today."

I will never forget these words, and tears are streaming down my face in this moment as I type this out. I was filled with humility, and so much strength after hearing her words. It did not really make sense from a medical perspective that everything with the tumor in my body would be "just fine," but when your most special person tells you she's been talking to God on your behalf and is 100% confident, you can't help but feel some of that confidence yourself. 

I checked in for surgery with my sweet husband, parents, and mother in love all waiting for me. As I was being hooked up to the IV, I felt an intense and sharp pain at the tumor in my leg. As it usually only had sharp pain during activity, or an achy pain afterward, this was a little weird, and I mentioned it to the nurse in the room. She said that the exact phenomenon I was describing was felt by so many of her patients, "almost like the tumor knows it's about to be removed and is putting up one final stand." 

I made it to 9 in my backwards counting from 10 and awoke hours later in recovery. 

My family support team had been able to speak with Dr. Montgomery to get the full report of the successful operation long before I awoke. My first memory of waking up is being so incredibly thirsty and needing water to help relieve my dry throat. 

My second memory is of Nathan sitting on my bed, with my parents and his mom standing behind him, while he explained to me that once the operation began, the doctor learned that the tumor could shockingly be classified as an entirely different category of tumor which was benign. He was able to remove it and replace the empty space with cadaver bone grafting, and I would have a full recovery with only the most unlikely chance of it recurring in my body. 

I was a little discombobulated after all the medication but I remember saying, "Grandma knew this would happen!!" 

The recovery process was so incredibly hard. The weeks after were full of pain, instability on crutches, fatigue, and an absolute dependence on Nathan. I took a shower unsupervised once. I fell and put all my weight on my cast and then was banned from any showering without literally holding Nathan's hand the whole time. 

I learned a lot and now have so many tips to share with anyone in the early stages of surgical recovery. In that way I became a more knowledgeable and understanding Physical Therapist for my patients. 

I went for several check ups after surgery, and the scans have been clear every time. While I still have moments of physical pain at my surgery site, I have had zero signs of any recurrence. After feeling confused and frustrated that I had pain after years of healing, I decided to let it be a reminder instead. Now, if I feel pain, I think, 




While I wish that I rolled out of bed every morning with these thoughts forefront on my mind, and through every second of every day, I regret to inform you that is not the case. However, I think that I have been generally changed and it is easy for me to return to these thoughts of gratitude. After a long day I can enjoy simple independent things like walking without an assistive device and taking a shower by myself. Running hurts, so I still avoid it, but I am able to walk and do things that I love. Every workout I do is an absolute celebration that I can move and challenge my body. This life is such a gift. 

If you want to know more details, or need some of those crucial post-surgery tips, let me know! But for now I can tell you some things I have learned. 

1. When people offer to help you when you are in need, let them help. Allow people to open doors for you and to hold your hand while you shower. Embrace your dependence and the kindness of your friends in those moments. 

2. We are not guaranteed anything in this life, and things can change in an instant. Enjoy each day. 

3. God graciously healed me, and I will be forever grateful. The fact that I am alive today is a miracle and a gift, and I am so thankful. 

I have felt so many emotions about this particular day, April 9, in the six years since my surgery. I now feel that I have the vocabulary and understanding to write them. I have often felt "self centered" that I made essentially my own holiday to celebrate and remember each year, especially as it falls the day before my husband's and some dear friends' birthdays. (This should be THEIR special time, not mine, right?!?!) But truly this is a celebration of the goodness and grace of God and his awe-inspiring power and love. It's the most powerful reminder for me, more so than Easter or Christmas. I actually love celebrating this day now because it brings me the most joy! 

I will still cry uncontrollably when listening to "Do it Again" or when thinking about my phone call with Grandma. And I am so grateful for the emotions that are still real and fresh for me. Today, I am sharing this story with you so you can also join me in celebrating this most fun and beautiful holiday! The best way to celebrate is to move your body by doing the things you love. For me, that is working out in my garage, working in my garden, and taking my best dog Balto for a walk. I am sharing some pictures of this journey. In the past few years I have enjoyed learning photography, with self portraits being a fun way to create, so I have included some of those as well from this week. 

Happy Leg Day! 

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I'm so thankful for the insight you had for me in my post-surgery time at home with my parents! In an incredibly vulnerable and exhausted state, you were a person I was excited to go see several times a week because I knew you would have a smile and a snippet of wisdom from your recovery! Now, as a speech therapist with patients who have had similar situations, I hope I can be that person for them!

Replying to

Sara! Thank you so much for these sweet words! You were absolutely a delight to work with. I think we laughed a lot in our time together! I know you are the best practitioner for your patients now.


Brooke, My name is Lori and I’m Alex’s mom. Your words resonated with me so much and made me cry. I didn’t know your story before this , but I did know how special you were to Alex. I can see why. You are beautiful inside and out and your joy is evident in all of your posts. I love that you have taken such pain and turned it into gratitude for all things. Continue to be a light and keep living your best life! Much Love, Lori

Replying to

Mrs. Lori! I feel like I know you already, and your daughter is so precious to me! Thank you so much for such kind and encouraging words!!

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