Cheering to My New-Found Confidence

Genasis Crafton coaching her cheerleading squad.

Genasis Crafton, cheerleading coach for the Apple Valley Rattlers

Of all the things in this world, there is nothing I enjoy more than cheering! It gives me a sense of purpose to motivate and inspire others as they achieve success on and off the field.

The truth is we could all use a cheerleader in our lives at one point or another. Someone to lift us up when we’re down, to help us stay on track when we’ve lost our way and a compassionate friend who never loses hope — even if we have.

I found my friend and cheerleader in Dr. Mark Bussell. He has been on my team since day one.

My Cheering Spirit Diminished 

It all began on January 30, 2013. My life at 13 was turned upside down with the news that I had stage IV Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoblastic Lymphoma. It’s a rare, but serious form of cancer often found in children. According to the doctors, abnormal lymphocytes or white blood cells are present in the lymph nodes or thymus gland.

The most alarming thing about my cancer diagnosis was what happened with my legs. They had turned purple (literally) as a result of my illness and brought with it a tingling sensation throughout. I can’t tell you how many nights I woke up in agony, feeling intense charley horses all over my legs. But, this was only one sliver of the larger news I was soon going to learn.  

My oncologist at this time had informed me that my legs were clinically dead. Meaning, I was never going to walk again, let alone jump up and down or do the splits with my cheerleading team. In fact, it was only a matter of days before my legs would need to be amputated. I never imagined having cancer, but worst of all never being able to cheer again on my own two legs. That was more devastating than anything.

What Do I Do Now?

I knew this couldn’t be the only answer. No matter what the doctors were telling me, I was determined to walk. Thankfully, my mother wasn’t ready to quit either. She came across Loma Linda’s rehabilitation services and looked into physical therapy. I was referred by an outpatient orthopedic specialist who encouraged me to meet Dr. Bussell. Dr. Bussell was also a cancer survivor and could relate to the nerve pain I was experiencing.

My first visit with Dr. Bussell was the best. He was the most polite, compassionate doctor I had ever met. I can still recall my first assessment in which he approached me with a small tact — similar to a nail used to hang décor on the wall.  I asked him, “What are going to do with that?” We joked around for a bit before he tested my sensitivity levels. This was the beginning of my recovery.

After the first six months of Intraneural Facilitation or INF™, I was beginning to walk. It was unbelievable!  Even my doctors called it a miracle. Dr. Bussell and I told them we were making magic happen.

My treatments varied from two-three times a week, with each session more relaxing than the next. It’s not every day you fall asleep during a doctor’s visit. In my case, I was so comfortable and at ease I fell asleep once or twice. The treatment felt like I was getting a massage only this massage allows for blood to flow through the legs.

A Change for the Better

For the first time since being diagnosed I was able to stand on my own. I was able to walk to the bathroom without my mother’s help. As a 14-year old, this was all I could ask for.

It was amazing to see the purple in my legs begin to change color. I wasn’t relying on my walker or wheelchair anymore. When I returned to my doctors for a MRI, it had been shown that my diagnosis of Avascular Necrosis or AVN as part of my cancer diagnosis was gone. And the crazy thing is AVN is incurable!

Everything was changing for the better and all thanks to Dr. Bussell. He was not only treating my condition, but helping me to strengthen my faith in God. My hope of cheering once more was being restored.

 

My treatment is an ongoing process that requires the strength of both Dr. Bussell and I. I maintain a gluten free diet — though challenging at times — with daily stretches and exercise. I’ll never forget putting on a high heel for the first time in a long time and having my confidence come to light by the simple act of putting on a shoe. I felt beautiful!

Today, I’m back to cheer practice serving as the cheerleading coach for the Apple Valley Rattlers football team. The good news is I’m healthy and strong. I can’t wait to attend beauty school next year.

If anyone is suffering with nerve pain, please consider INF™, it’s an amazing treatment! Dr. Bussell and his team of physical therapists are here for you every step of the way and they won’t let you fail. Trust me, this is a winning team with a passion for healing.

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