Francine Russo-Guerreiro 

Hello! My name is Francine and I'm from Brazil!  Today, June 13th, completes a year of my arrival to the United States! 
I'm going to share a little bit of my story that molded me to become who I am now.
In 2014 I had a whole week of really bad migraines and I had to go to the doctor, who prescribed me tons of medication. I don't remember much of that week because of the heavy meds I had to take. I was adopted when I was just a few weeks old and because of the fact that my parents don't know my biological parents' history, they decided they wanted me to have a consultation with a neurologist. I had to go through an electroencephalogram and MRIs and we ended up finding out that I have a asymptomatic cavernous angioma between my occipital and parietal lobe. I freaked out I was only 19 at that time. For those who don't know it, a cavernous angioma is like a mulberry shaped blood "bubble" that's usually located in the brain or spinal cord and it can cause seizures amongst many other symptoms and it can bleed out causing a lot of brain damage, the surgery is usually recommended. I went to a neurosurgeon after we got the results and he told me that the risks of the surgery would be worst than having the angioma itself. He advised me to live a healthy lifestyle and that would prevent from bleeding and growing, and to take MRIs every year to see how fast is it growing and if it's going to have the need of surgery. Now I'm 25, and before moving to the US I took another type of MRI to check my blood veins  in my brain and the doctor just told me to keep living a healthy lifestyle and forget about the angioma (but also take MRIs once a year). 
Something else happened that changed my life and that happened in 2017.  I was 22 years old and I living a very active life. I had dance classes twice a week and circus classes twice a week. I've always loved dancing and had dance classes since I was a child but I had just found out my new passion: CIRCUS! I always loved watching the circus but never thought of taking classes, until I finally did it. It was two and a half amazing months of learning new tricks and specially trapeze. Then one day I was streching and asked my teacher to help me put my leg up. We heard a sound of something like clothes being tore and right after that I felt intense pain. I had to go straight to the hospital and then later to an orthopedic doctor. Two orthopedic doctors failed me. They both told me I had nothing wrong with my body after a series of x-rays and I had to beg them for a physical therapist. The physical therapist worked on my leg for two months just which the shocking devices and since nothing had changed and I was still in intense pain I had to ask the orthopedic doctor for a MRI. Literally, begging him, he decided to allow it. Once we got the results back he saw the mistake he had made and I could see it in his face. Turned out I had tore my hamstring muscles from one side to the other,  part of my cartilage on my right hip labrum was also tore (so my bones clash) and I had developed acute tendinitis and bursitis since the tare. I went back to the physical therapist and we looked at the MRI and said: "you'll never be able to exercise again, or dance, or go to the gym..". Well, that's when I got SUPER depressed because I believed in him. That made my life miserable. I couldn't eat because I was scared of eating and not being able to exercise to burn the fat, I was depressed for not being able to do what I loved, and I was still in a lot of pain. 
Long story (not too) short, I chose another physical therapist to go to, he treated me for about 7 months and told me his work was done and that now I needed to find a pilates place to rehab. I went to pilates for about one year and a half and a "rehab" pilates became a REAL pilates and I was strong again and no pain! If you don't know this, the secret for avoiding bursitis and tendinitis is to stretch. 
By then I had already taken other two MRIs to check my hip. my hamstrings muscles were already scarred (unfortunately due to the doctors' negligence they weren't scarred the right way) but I was living a normal life again. Before I came to the US I went to another orthopedic doctor and he advised me to stretch everyday, eat healthy, drink plenty of water and ALSO plank for at least 2 minutes everyday and told me to go to the gym and do cycling, abs, and mainly legs/thighs adduction and abduction. I guess the first physical therapist wasn't right was he? 
Even though I can't run or hike in steep places because of my hip, or ride crazy roller coasters because of my brain, both of my "illnesses" complement each other to make me have a healthier life and therefore finding my inner peace. I love being able to have a healthy plant-based diet, stretch AND exercise almost everyday at the park and being able to enjoy life and even dance, if I'm careful!
That's what made me see the beauty of it all and find inner peace. Everyone should try that! IMG_2916.jpg 

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What an amazing story Francine! Thank you so much for sharing your journey with us. ðŸ˜
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Jolene Johnson 
Oh, I am so sorry you had to go through all of that! Some doctors just refuse to listen to their patients, and if I encounter that problem now, I immediately go to work finding a different doctor that will. It is scary how much their opinions can mess up our lives! I'm so glad you advocated for yourself and got the help you needed to live your life. Never settle for one person's opinion on your health, they don't live your life or feel the things you feel. Your story is inspiring for anyone fighting for a better quality of life! 🙂
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Megan Walker 
What an inspirational story! I’m so sorry about everything you had to go through... so much! But wow, have you ever triumphed! Thank you for sharing your amazing story and best wishes to you!
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Amazing story and very inspiring to see how far you've come. This is just the beginning and I'm sure you will overcome any limitations as you become stronger.
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