Trojan Spirit: Kaitlyn Corkell


Many may believe that the only definition of spirit comes from the characteristics given to a person who shows lively quality or devotion to something. Seeing someone struggle and later overcome that obstacle shows me, and hopefully everyone else, that spirit also comes from within, even when dealing with something that you may think you cannot defeat. Kaitlyn Corkell, a current junior at GNA, spoke with me about her medical condition and proves to be very “spirited” throughout her hardships. Her story and incredible journey brings me such joy to now see her happier than ever and able to easily speak out about what she has gone through.

On August 11th, 2006, Kaitlyn was only seven years old when she was informed by that had a rare form of scoliosis. To enhance Kaitlyn and her family’s knowledge on her condition, they sent her to Shriner’s Hospital for Children to get the care that she needed.

On August 14th, 2006, they met with Dr. Betz, who then diagnosed Kaitlyn with Idiopathic Scoliosis of the thoracolumnar region, a condition that affects children between the ages of three and nine and is characterized by the presence of an abnormal lateral curvature of the spine.  seemed to impact her life in many different ways. Not being able to do certain activities she  interested in, like gymnastics, kept her from being like everyone else. Although she was limited to certain things, she learned to push through the pain and not let it have a negative outcome  her life.

On October 4th, 2007, Kaitlyn experienced her first surgery, Vertebral Body Stapling staples are inserted into each individual vertebrae, which are designed to prevent curvature of the spine. A few months prior to her surgery, she was given a day and night brace to wear at  times. This made her feel very “depressed and weird,” thinking no one would understand her circumstances. After this tedious process, she seemed to be adjusting back to her normal  extremely well, returning to school and cheerleading within three weeks post operation.

Her condition took a toll on her when it came to sports. During track, her spine was pushed against her lungs, making it harder for her to breathe. Due to her scoliosis, her hips were uneven causing her to slow down while running. On August 26th, 2015, Kaitlyn underwent her very last surgery, spinal fusion; a process that permanently joins together two or more vertebrae in the spine so there is no movement between them. She said, “I tried to do everything as normal, but  did have a lot more pain than I have ever had.” Although she has experienced more lows highs, she has recently been cleared by her doctor to start cheerleading once again and finally feels that her life is getting back to normal.

Even after her struggles, numerous surgeries, and countless back braces, Kaitlyn is now six  months post operation and feels very fortunate to be healthier than ever. Being diagnosed such a young age and having to deal with something so severe helped her become stronger for only  herself, but her family as well. Embodying these characteristics proves that she can be a model for people who suffer with scoliosis and others with all different kinds of medical conditions Having someone you can relate and share your story with will make the healing process, physically and mentally, that much easier.