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A Dream Achieved: Dancing Again!

Imagine this: About 2 months ago, I’m laying in a hospital bed in Maryland feeling probably the worst I ever felt.  I can’t take a sip of water without vomiting. I’m down 8 lbs. and too weak to even walk around for a short period of time. My doctor, Dr. Fasano, walks in to talk to me and my parents. He says he is concerned that I haven’t eaten in over a week because any time I tried to eat I vomit.  He looks at me and says “You have 24 hours to try to keep some food down or I am going have to start you on a feeding tube to save your life.”

I looked at him and said, “But I can’t dance with a feeding tube.”

He looked at me and then said with a smile, “Is this a goal of yours to dance again?” 

I nodded yes.

He said, “If you want to dance again, then you have to try no matter how nauseous you are, to try to keep eating and drink those Pediasures! Plus, we are starting you on steroids.” 

At the time, it seemed like an impossible task, but I was determined to get better and dance again! By some miracle within those 24 hours, I was able to keep some food down, which I think was the help of the steroids. 

 Celiac girl Alexis with her dance team 

Now I bring you to the present.  Although I am not 100% better by any means, we worked out a very limited schedule for just choreography in small increments at my dance studio.  With my teachers and dance team’s support, I have been able to learn the dances that I missed during my hospitalizations.  Being around my dance team has been wonderful.  They are my best friends and they are excited to have me back, even if it’s on a limited basis.  My dance teachers have been very supportive and have worked with me privately to get me to up to date with the choreography.

In the hospital, I told my parents my first goal was to dance on stage with my teammates at my next dance competition.  I worked hard to find the strength within me to practice. There were some moments that were hard to find the energy, but I did it. There were nights when I came home feeling nauseous or my stomach was hurting me, but I was determined to meet this goal. It’s the best feeling for me to dance again because when I dance I forget about the aches and pains and the fact that I might have refractory disease.  Dancing frees me from all of it.

   Celiac girl Alexis with dance team in cowboy costumes   

Finally the day arrived. It’s the day of my dance competition.  My mom and I wake up at the crack of dawn to do hair and makeup.  Along with that, my mom has spent all night cooking for me for the day. We pack a huge cooler filled with my fresh foods, grab the costumes and head to Lakewood, NJ, to the IDC Dance Competition. We arrive at 7 a.m. to the competition and the excitement of all the dancers in the air. My call time for my jazz dance is at 8:05 a.m. My mom fixes my makeup, wishes me luck and I head backstage with my teammates. They introduced my team as the next dance number and we perform our dance. I felt like I was in heaven! My mom sat in the audience and cried tears of joy! I reached my first goal! 

The rest of the day at the competition was great.  I performed my tap dance and my acro dance. It was a long day and I was exhausted, but I didn’t care because my dream came true! 

This day was a huge accomplishment for me. The dream that kept me going in the hospital when I was at my worst, my future unknown and my life in hands of these amazing doctors- my dream came true!  I did it! I danced again!  It makes me realize that in life with enough determination, you can make anything you want happen.  I am a fighter and I won’t let this disease take control of my life!  I am taking control of my life and my dreams.

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