Patient Stories

Leah Humes

I, like many others, was completed blindsided by my scoliosis diagnosis in 2012. I have always been a very active person and have competed on sports teams since the age of four. I started developing fairly severe back pain at the age of 15, but never thought too much of it. At that time, I was playing AAA soccer and basketball, in addition to representing my Montreal high school team in soccer, basketball, and flag football. During my senior year in high school, I decided that I wanted to start exploring American Prep Schools since I wanted a new academic and athletic challenge. After many different school visits in Massachusetts and New Hampshire, I was admitted to a great independent boarding school. During my two years in Massachusetts, I continued to struggle with what became more severe back pain. It wasn’t until the spring of 2012 that I finally went to the hospital for X-Rays, and I was devastated by the results. I had a 45 degree curvature and had to seriously consider surgery if I wanted to live comfortably and attempt to keep competing athletically.

At this point, I had been accepted to a Division III American College and was looking forward to playing on the university’s soccer and basketball teams. In Montreal, I worked with Dr. Parent and his team at the Sainte-Justine Hospital. Everyone was exceptional throughout this entire process. They were able to schedule surgery for July of that year, but that meant that I would be out for my first year of college athletics. I was far from excited about this news. However, Dr. Parent and my dad reminded me to consider my options: take a year off for surgery or risk not being able to continue my athletic career at all due to severe pain. The thought of never being able to play competitively again scared me, and that’s when I decided that I wanted to go through with the surgery.

Deciding to have surgery was a very hard decision. The surgery alone frightened me. I couldn’t help but worry that the surgery could go wrong, my athletic career could come to an end, or that I may not recover properly post-surgery. Well, all of those worries were for nothing. I was fortunate to have an amazing doctor who successfully completed the surgery (to no surprise) and helped me get back to playing collegiate soccer and basketball within the year. It would be a lie to say that the recovery was easy, but every day was an improvement, and that was encouraging.

Today, I am happy to say that I recovered tremendously well and became a better and stronger athlete after my surgery. I no longer suffer from back pain. I was able to train and compete with my teammates and feel physically better about my body. At the College level, I was able to become an impact player on my soccer team for three years, and I had the honor of captaining my team during my senior year. I was also honored to receive the MVP award!

Going through with this surgery was one of the best, yet scariest decisions I have ever had to make. That said, I am forever grateful for the decision I made and for the amazing team that I had supporting me from day one. I am healthy, happy, active, and stronger than ever. A big thank you to Dr. Parent and the Sainte-Justine Team in Montreal!


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