A Canadian teen from Ontario, Sarah Atwell, suffers from neurofibromatosis, a condition the 17-year-old was diagnosed with at 8 months, and the tumor it caused to grow on just one side of her face elicited cries of ‘fat face’ and ‘slut’ from ruthless schoolmates for years.
Atwell posted a video where she battles back against the people who’ve made her feel terrible as she struggled with a lifetime of disfigurement caused by the rare disease neurofibromatosis.
In 2012, she decided to say something. Using notecards, 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,’ says a card the teen holds for the world to see.
‘I wish people could understand there is nothing wrong with me,’ says another.
But people weren’t trying to understand, something the video makes heartbreakingly clear.
‘I get called names all the time,’ reads a card. ‘Bitch, slut, fat face, fat, ugly…it hurts.’
‘Maybe one day the bullying will stop, but until then I’m going to be STRONG,’ one of the last cards says.
Satisfied, Sarah posted her video to Facebook and went to bed.
‘The next day I got up and my inbox was over 1000 messages or more from people,’ Sarah said. ‘It felt pretty good.’
Among what was likely the millions who saw her video was someone from Discovery and the channel has documented a very exciting, and scary, part of the young girl’s life.
Not only is she at the brink of a new chapter as a senior in high school, the special also shows herpreparing to undergo a surgery she hopes will be her last.
The footage is from last year. Today, she’s a new woman.
‘It’s pretty awesome. I am pretty sure most of it is gone except a little bit around the eyes,’ she told ABC. ‘The doctor said he could not be sure if it would come back or not.’
Sarah says she hopes to find a career where she can work with kids. And she’d give them all the wisdom she wish she’d been given.
‘If I could stand up to bullying, and if another kid who was bullied sees me and thinks they can talk to someone and think, ‘I can stand up for myself,’ then I have helped,’ she said.