Standing up to bullies, girl says, 'I have a tumor, that's all'
Surgery performed on face gives her better chance at living a normal life
Suffering from neurofibromatosis, 17-year-old Sarah Atwell of Ontario, Canada, the resulting tumor caused one side of her face to grow abnormally. Cruel bullies have taunted her with epithets of "fat face" and "slut" for several years. In response, Atwell took to the Internet to share her story and declared she would live a happy life - no matter what the bullies said.
Now a senior in high school, the TV special shows 17-year-old Sarah Atwell preparing to undergo a surgery she hopes will be her last.
Her strong will has won Atwell droves of fans across the cyber community. In addition, it's gotten her a special on Discovery Fit & Health slated to air this December 18.
While tearful moments like this still come for 17-year-old Ontario girl Sarah Atwell, she conquered at least part of the pain associated with her disfigurement with a 2012 YouTube video where she fought back against bullies.
The TV special will show Atwell, who lives with her family in Nova Scotia, in the weeks leading up to what she hopes will be a life-altering surgery to remove the tumor once and for all.
"I thought I'd make a video and say what's been going on," she told Discovery.
"The next day I got up and my in-box was over 1000 messages or more from people,' she said.
Dealing with bullying her entire life, at 16 she was fed up.
'I wish people could understand, there's nothing wrong with me': Sarah's special airs December 18 and documents her struggle with everyday teenage issues as she prepares to undergo major surgery, one of many she's endured in her short life.
"I was in grade three and people were calling me names like 'fat face' and 'ugly' and were pushing me around," Sarah says. "They said I had a disease. Most of the time, I just walked away and didn't say much to them."
Using note cards in her 2012 online video, she wrote out everything her life with neurofibromatosis, and the bullies who came with it, made her feel.
"I have a tumor, that's all ...
"I wish people could understand there is nothing wrong with me," another card read.
"I get called names all the time," reads another card. 'Bitch, slut, fat face, fat, ugly . it hurts.
Sarah's special was taped in 2012. She's now undergone her surgery, which left only a small part of the tumor around her eye, and she hopes to now live a relatively normal life.
"Maybe one day the bullying will stop, but until then I'm going to be STRONG,' one of the last cards says.
Now a senior in high school, the TV special also shows her preparing to undergo a surgery she hopes will be her last. Atwell today is a new woman.
"It's pretty awesome. I am pretty sure most of it is gone except a little bit around the eyes," she says. "The doctor said he could not be sure if it would come back or not."
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Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for March 2014
Respect for Women: That all cultures may respect the rights and dignity of women.
Vocations: That many young people may accept the Lord’s invitation to consecrate their lives to proclaiming the Gospel.
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