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Junior Has Long-Awaited Surgery

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Her heart jumps as her fingers brush the bandage on her face. She has waited for what seems like a lifetime to be free of the extra cells around her eye, and she can not help but wonder if she will recognize herself. Nerves run wild and excitement tingles in her thoughts. With a shuddering breath, she shifts her gaze to the mirror.

Junior Madison Pilkinton went into surgery this past June to remove her pilocytic astrocytoma tumor from her eye. For the first time in six years, she is tumor free.

“I was, and still am, so much happier and more confident in myself and in my appearance,” Pilkinton said. “I am really happy with the results from the surgery.”

Pilkinton was diagnosed with the benign brain tumor in sixth grade. Since the diagnosis, she has gone through chemotherapy and several optic surgeries.

“I do not even remember my seventh grade year because I was [absent a lot from] having surgeries,” Pilkinton said. “I remember I did not have much hair due to chemo, and I felt embarrassed, but most people showed me love and support.”

Her most recent surgery caused the loss of vision in her right eye. Throughout the process, friends and family drove back and forth to the hospital in Dallas to support her.

“I think it is really inspiring to hear her story,” junior Kayla Godwin said. “It is crazy to think that she went through all of that because it was not just one surgery and it wasn’t just one thing that changed her life.”

Godwin was on family vacation during Pilkinton’s final surgery. Through calls and texts, she showed her love and support.

“I have never met somebody that could be as strong as her,” Godwin said. “She is always really positive, and I do not know if I would have stayed as positive as she had been.”

Pilkinton’s release from the hospital was delayed several days due to her inability to eat for eight days. She lost 12 pounds, and when doctors told her they would have to insert a tube down her throat if she did not eat, Pilkinton ordered a pizza.

“It was a little difficult,” Pilkinton said. “I had these headaches that were worse than migraines, and it was hard for me to go places for at least a month.”

Pilkinton’s doctor gave her more options on future procedures related to the movement of her eye and bringing it into alignment with her other eye. She decided, however, that she does not wish for any future surgeries at this time.

“I am just going to take it day by day,” Pilkinton said. “For now, I am happy with how everything turned out.”

Pilkinton is grateful for all of the love and support through the years of trials and tribulations. Overall, she was excited, not scared, for her transformation.

“My advice for people going through a struggle is to not pity yourself,” Pilkinton said. “I promise there are people going through much worse things.”

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Junior Has Long-Awaited Surgery