All eyes are on Scarlett when she takes the stage, but can we really see everything about this charming and talented camper? Her daily life consists of dizziness and migraines from the tumors growing on and around her nerve endings. Layer these with learning differences, and you soon see why her family’s mantra is: “You either laugh or you cry, so we choose to laugh!”
Laughter is the Best Medicine
On her third birthday, Scarlett was diagnosed with a genetic disorder called Neurofibromatosis Type 1 (NF1). Tumors develop on both sides of her head and face, in and around her throat, tongue, and upper chest. An artery to her brain compresses on one side which causes frequent dizziness and migraines.
Scarlett, now 13 years old, is no stranger to her Seattle Children’s Hospital medical team. After multiple surgeries, her team anxiously awaits the arrival of their joyful friend. Every few months, they manage Scarlett’s chemotherapy doses and catch up on the latest school news while she throws a few comedic zingers their way.
Remembering the power of laughter, her mom recognized that Scarlett was quite the comedian. She nailed her first stand-up routine at age seven. “I like to think she was born with both NF1 and a great sense of humor! She has performed in several talent shows and even got to perform at the Camp Korey gala in 2016 where she got a big hug from Steve Pool!” beams Scarlett’s mom.
Last year, Scarlett brought down the house at her middle school talent show with a routine about her medical challenges – complete with an all-school standing ovation!
Scarlett’s family has met adversity straight on with grace, positivity, and–rightfully so–a little trepidation. When she was little, her protective mother would worry when kids asked, “what’s wrong with your eye?” Kindly, Scarlett reminded her, “It’s okay, Mom. When people come up and talk to me because of my eye, that’s how I make new friends!” Blown away, Scarlett’s mom watched as her powerhouse of a daughter embraced who she is. She has paved her own way ever since.
Just Keep Swimming, Just Keep Swimming
Imagine being in a room full of wonderful, warm sunshine leaving you excited to start your day . . . that is what being around Scarlett makes you feel like. Scarlett is full of hopes and dreams. She brightly dreams of the day when she is a special education teacher, moonlighting as a swim coach and stand-up comedian. It reminds us of a certain day time talk-show host who also was a fish . . . if we could only remember her name . . .
Since she was six years old, Scarlett has adored Camp Korey. It’s her home away from home. Camp is her bright light where she leaves her conditions at the gate, embraces her friends, and enjoys just being Scarlett! Every summer, upon returning home, she even creates a countdown calendar–a reminder of the number of days until she sees her friends again. Scarlett is simply a great friend to all. She gives unconditionally while expecting nothing in return. But, it’s not that surprising. After all:
“Somebody always has it harder than you. And, sometimes you can’t see people’s disabilities or what they are going through. So just be kind. To everyone.” – Camper Scarlett