Sarah Atwell, a 17-year old girl was born with a rare disorder called neurofibromatosis, hereditary disorder which was passed down from her parents. Sarah’s disorder causes tumors happened to grow on just one side of her face.
While the tumor that was growing on her face was entirely cosmetic, no one was willing to operate on Sarah. This resulted in her enduring a massive amount of bullying from classmates.
Sarah dealt with bullying all her life and at 16 she was fed up.
‘I was in grade three and people were calling me names like ‘fat face’ and ‘ugly’ and were pushing me around.’
‘They said I had a disease. Most of the time, I just walked away and didn’t say much to them.’
In 2012, Sarah uploaded a video to Facebook. 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.
‘The next day I got up and my inbox was over 1000 messages or more from people,’ Sarah said. ‘It felt pretty good.’
After so long, Sarah’s story had finally caught someone’s attention and she was given a glimmer of hope. Sarah’s video led her to get in touch with Dr. Steven Morris, a plastic surgeon.
While the surgery was risky, both Dr. Morris and Sarah agreed to go through with it.
After multiple surgeries, Sarah has completely changed in appearance.
But despite her physical changes, she’s still the positive and kind woman she always was.
Despite the years of bullying and abuseSarah’s willingness to thrive helped her stay strong.