Mandy Meyer - Minnesota Nomination and Photography by Toby Meyer Issue 44 of Inspiring Teens Magazine
The Nomination: Mandy is a survivor. Mandy is an inspiration because of the treacherous hardships she’s endured. Mandy listened to herself when no one else would. Mandy had a brain tumor and rare disease. Mandy fought for her life. Mandy is here today to inspire and be a voice for those struggling. Mandy is an advocate for those who are fighting rare diseases by letting doctors use her for research. Mandy discovered the light at the end of the tunnel after years of battling the unknown. Mandy is ready to share her story with the rest of the world. Mandy is hope.
Photography by Toby Meyer
What would you most like to be interviewed about? I would most like to be interviewed about my story and how I am on a journey to help others. I would like to specifically be interviewed about my disease as it doesn’t happen a lot in adolescents and is very rare.
Please share with us your story and the journey you are on to help others. For years and years I was told by multiple doctors that nothing was wrong with me, go to therapy, and try antidepressants. I even had gotten to the point where I asked my doctor, “Could this be a brain tumor?” I had joked about it for years with my friends and therapist. Well, it turns out I was right. I remember the day after my surgery, I pressed the nurse button screaming, “I want to die.” Why am I on a journey to help others? They’re people suffering, just like I was, now I want to help give others answers.
What is your disease and what do you want others to know about it? My disease is known as Cushing’s Disease. It is when your body produces way too much cortisol, commonly known as the stress hormone. This disease just didn’t affect one body part, it affected all of me. The list goes on and on of side effects I had. It caused a 7.7 mm brain tumor on my pituitary gland, and most of all almost made me want to take my life multiple times. For the rest of my life, I will need yearly MRI’s and medical check-ups. But for the rest of my life, I will be a survivor.
If you were to present a topic to a group of your peers, what would it be on and why? (What do you feel passionate about or could talk forever about?) Mental health. It is so important. I feel as there can sometimes be a stereotype on mental health such as telling someone, “get over it,” or “you're fine.” I almost took my life from being suicidal over the years and my underlying medical condition but what I always had was someone to talk to. The reason why I could talk about it forever is I have a story. A story that shows others they are not alone, and they can overcome their battles. Life has a purpose for everyone.
Photography by Toby Meyer
What is the hardest thing you have ever accomplished, and how did you do it? The hardest thing I have ever accomplished was going to college in High School while dealing with my chronic illness and being Class President. I did end up achieving a 4.0 GPA and being ranked number fourth in class the first year of college (11th grade) and have continued to be ranked as number four as my class load had to be put down due to my life changing surgery. The reason why this was the hardest thing for me is because I never let my illness define my capabilities when it came to school. I strived to make progress even when I thought I couldn’t. No B + would slip past me. I've always pushed myself to have straight A’s.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to be where you are today? Is a road ever perfect? No. What do you do when there is a bump on a road? Sometimes you go by them, ride over them, or even get a flat tire but when you're stranded on the road of course you get the tire fixed and keep on rolling. That is like life. Keep on going and fight. Fighting is what my life has been as my mother had Stage Three Breast Cancer, my father was in a car accident, and my disease. I wouldn’t want anyone to be where I am today because everyone has their own journey, so you do you, and trust yourself.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years/what are your plans? I am interested in mental health care so I can save others' lives. I believe that mental health should involve more than just talking to a therapist. It's surprising that in psychology, it’s one of the only fields of studies that doesn't scan the organ that it is actually studying. What if someone had a brain tumor that was causing their insignificant amount of anxiety and depression? That was the case for me. I would like to advance the amount of availability of mental health help around my local area, I see that there is an understandable amount of growth needed for this kind of service as I struggled to receive the proper help that I needed. Who ended up giving that significant amount of help to save my life? Indeed, it was me. they reached out to me asking for help. I would like to minor in Healthcare/Science because I have been in and out of hospitals during my adolescent years. I was at the University of Minnesota Masonic Children's Hospital and it inspired me. I would have to walk a lap around the hospital and I saw the other kids in their bed. I saw their pain. Just wanting to live a "normal" life. I want to offer children and adolescents answers to their overall health pain. It's greatly needed as I have seen over the years that mental health issues are mostly looked at as "anxiety" or "depression," which sometimes is not the case. They could have diabetes, PCOS, a thyroid disease, an autoimmune disease, or even Cushing disease because I had it so it's possible. There is always that chance.
Photography by Toby Meyer
What is your favorite activity or pastime that was not in your nomination? Easy, heading to my local gym to workout. My favorite part about going there is not just to work on myself but to help others. I also work here as well. I love to bring healthy treats in, motivate others, and share my story. The gym isn’t just a gym, it’s my second home.
Do you have a hidden talent? What is it? A hidden talent of mine is photography. I started teaching myself at the age of twelve and have continued on. I call it, “Smile Photography” because the best part about photography is seeing individuals smiling. I have taken pictures from individuals, friends, family, wedding, and events. Most of the time I offer them to people who can’t financially afford the cost of getting professional pictures done.
3 Things on your bucket list -Have an world wide event for people with rare diseases. -Visit children hospitals and give them pig stuffed animals, also with a blanket like the U of M did for me. -Share my story around the world with the hope of saving others lives. Not just about my medical health, my mental health as I thought I would take my life but I decided to fight.
Who do you find inspiring? My father. He has had his own pain throughout the years. 4/17/15, he was in a car accident that will affect him for the rest of his life, has needed multiple surgeries, and most of all always made sure my siblings came first. Some days he wanted to be gone because of his chronic pain. Although, I’m not sure if I’d be alive today without him. My disease almost took my life, but my father took away my fear of wondering what was wrong with me, believing in me, and always being by my side along the journey.
Photography by Amber Elich
What about you inspires others/why do you think you are inspiring? Motivation all around. I always get up again and again even when I fail. Others see that in me and so do I. I got a bad grade on a test, I retake it. I have multiple problems after surgery, I continue going to the doctor to figure out what is wrong. I cry at night, so I reach out for help. My story is much longer than can be said but it has made people cry, want to reach out to me, and want to improve their own life. Is there anything else you would like to tell us? We have all heard the saying, “when life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” How about, “when life gives you struggles, you fight.” It’s the best option we have. Don’t be afraid to do it alone, and someone will always fight with you.
Look for Mandy in issue 44 of Inspiring Teens Magazine!