Sydney McMahan – Texas Nomination by Cheryl McMahan Photography by VJ Photography Issue 68 of Inspiring Teens Magazine
Nomination: Sydney McMahan is the living embodiment of the quote, “It’s not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters.” In second grade, Sydney was diagnosed with a brainstem tumor. With the location and size, the prognosis wasn’t promising. After brain surgery, she was left without the ability to walk, talk or write. She could have given up, but her positive outlook kept her going - never taking her life for granted or situation too seriously. Sydney is now graduating high school and will attend Oklahoma State University in the fall, majoring in Civil Engineering.
Photography by VJ Photography
What inspiring things about you does your nomination not cover? I’ve been through radiation, 4 brain surgeries, months of hospital stays, along with three major orthopedic surgeries from relearning how to walk.
What do you wish people knew about your diagnosis, treatment and recovery? Having a brain tumor isn't contagious and it doesn't take away your personality or intelligence. It does make a lot of things more challenging but someone that is undergoing or has undergone cancer therapies and surgeries is someone with a lot of resiliency. While you may not understand what that person has gone through, they will likely be very understanding when things aren't going the best for you.
What was the hardest part of recovery, and what motivated you to continue? Not every day is a good one. Some days are just horrible and when you feel your worst, it's hard to understand how feeling soooo bad can ever lead you to healing. However.... Just because life might be hard now, it doesn't mean that life will always be difficult. Be honest with yourself and allow yourself to have good - and bad - days. Just know that each day is special.
What else would you like to talk about? I’m so much more than just what has happened to me. Yes, those things may have made life more difficult at times but everyone has their own struggles. If you can laugh at yourself and those struggles, life is pretty great.
What do you feel passionate about or could talk about forever My pets! I have two vizsla dogs and a big floofy rabbit. They are THE best laugh and snuggles anyone could ever ask for!
How did you find your photographer, VJ Photography? What was your experience like? What did you love most about it? I am sooo thankful my mom found Valerie! My mom found her on Instagram through another’s senior photos. We knew she was the right person as soon as we met her. She listened and she got me! I wanted the pictures to show what I am about and who I am. She found locations that would allow me to be me and I loved it!
Is there anything else you would like to tell us? Just because life might be hard now, it doesn't mean that life will always be difficult. Be honest with yourself, allow yourself to have good - and bad - days.
Look for Sydney in issue 68 of Inspiring Teens Magazine!