Patient Spotlight: Emily Medlock
August 4, 2017
Growing up with seven siblings, none of whom had NF1 was tough. You see, when I was an infant, I was diagnosed with NF1, a disease my mom knew nothing about. She learned quickly after our general doctor recommended us to Dr. Gutmann and Washington University who specializes in NF1.
You can imagine how frightened my mom and siblings were when they were initially told by our local physician what it was. That I would likely not be able to walk, that I would be blind, that I would be mentally handicapped, that I likely wouldn’t live to be an adolescent, and that the tumors I had may grow cancerous. This is devastating news to any parent. For me, as I grew older, I didn’t even think about these things. I somehow knew that none of these extreme effects would ever reach me. So, there were tumors wrapped around my organs and spine, big deal. I was naïve, yes, but had more faith than most – a faith that was necessary for me to live a semi-normal childhood with my amazing family and more than supportive mom.
As hard as my family tried to make my life normal; however, the outside world wouldn’t always allow that. I was stared at, alienated, and forced to define myself simply by my NF. It took years and years for me to get past this. As a child, I would spend hours on the internet, looking for hope. I would try to find someone that had become an adult, gotten married, was loved, and lived a normal life.
I knew that I wouldn’t have any serious problems, yet my mom still worried. We continued to make the five hour trek to see Dr. Gutmann at St. Louis Children’s Hospital a couple times a year. Still, I had one major difficulty: I had this tumor growing on my neck. I spent my teenage years trying to cover it up with clothing and my hair.
Little did I know that the straight A’s I got in school were significant. Little did I know that the fact that I loved English and Creative Writing would be so important. Little did I know that celebrating my 16th, 18th, and 21st birthdays were such amazing feats.
As I got older and wiser, I realized something else very important. My NF didn’t define me. I wasn’t my disease. I believe that this mindset all started when I wrote a book called Letting Go. It launched my career and helped me learn who I was. For the first time since I was a young child I felt that I opened up and didn’t hold back. I was me. It took writing to find out who I even was.
Since then, I’ve written Book Two, yet to be published. But these days, I have little time to write novels, as I work full-time as a freelance writer online. My site Emily Medlock was launched in 2017, where I am hirable for almost any writing need. I make a decent living writing today for gaming sites, YouTube channels, viral sites like TheRichest, and more.
I’ve also met a really awesome man who I will be marrying in 2018. He’s one of the best things that has ever happened to me. I found myself before finding him, but since finding him, I’ve learned even more about accepting myself than I thought possible. That’s one of the best things about a good relationship. You become more and more of yourself every day. You don’t change, you become better. The same could be said for a good career.
More than anything, as far as NF is concerned, I want to be a ray of hope for young people struggling to accept themselves. Young people who want to know that they can grow up to have a normal life full of love, prosperity, and success. And young people, you know what? Do not settle for anything! You’ll find a career where you flourish. You will find a man/woman that will treat you like a king/queen. There’s just one rule: be yourself and don’t be scared!