LIFE

Young Woman Who Survived Eight Spinal Operations Is Crowned Beauty Queen

by Rebecca Landman
Rebecca is a writer living the Los Angeles dream. She loves hiking, music, and crocheting on her couch to the background lull of Netflix. She believes our world is complex. By sharing and listening to each other’s stories, we unpack that complexity layer by layer, learning more about who we are and how we want to live our lives. She writes to keep learning.

From age 10, every day of Victoria Graham’s life has been filled with excruciating pain. Until age 13, no doctor could conclusively determine what was causing her to feel as if someone were hammering nails into her spine. Eventually, Graham was diagnosed with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, or EDS — a condition which reduces collagen production, weakening every inch of connective tissue in her body.

Graham’s bones were constantly dislocating due to her weakened connective tissue. Over the next few years, she endured eight different back and brain surgeries to fuse her spine in place and prevent her brain from sinking through her skull.

Despite this epic medical journey, Graham’s glowing spirit and determination to make the most of her life never wavered.

She continued her star athletic career, as both a phenomenal lacrosse and soccer player, and, just recently, was crowned “Miss White Oak.” Claiming this title positioned Graham one step closer to realizing her ultimate dream — competing for the Miss America crown.

Keep scrolling through our gallery to learn how Graham braved her daily pain to claim her crown and how she now uses her post to spread awareness about EDS.

[H/T: Daily Mail]

girl and parents

Victoria Graham has led a painful life.

When she was only 10 years old, her body began experiencing ridiculously frequent shocks of pain all day long.

For the next three years, Graham’s parents shuttled her to all sorts of different doctors, looking for a miracle cure to appease their daughter’s suffering.

At age 13, Graham visited a geneticist who diagnosed her with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, also known as EDS.

girl stretching

Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome is a condition that limits the body’s collagen production.

Collagen is a key protein that strengthens the body’s connective tissue, which hold our bones, organs, ligaments, tendons, and so on, in place.

Without enough collagen, Graham experienced incredible flexibility, joint instability, and daily bone dislocations.

girl in hospital

Overtime, Graham’s condition deteriorated.

Being touched, tripping on the stairs, or even stumbling on uneven pavement can cause Graham’s gentle frame to dislocate.

As she told Daily Mail, “My condition means I can dislocate any of the bones in my body, the most it’s happened is up to ten times a day.

“As well as my gut not digesting food properly and my body cannot regulate my temperature or blood pressure.

“Being ‘normal’ is difficult and usually not even a possibility.”

Since her diagnosis, Graham has had eight different surgeries, four of which have been necessary to prevent her brain from slipping through her skull and her skull from crushing her spine.

While most folks would crumble at the thought of having to endure this much time in a hospital, along with this severe level of pain on a daily basis, Graham refuses to let her situation prevent her from living her truth.

girl in hospital

Despite her worsening condition, this survivor continued her legacy as a star lacrosse and soccer player all throughout school.

She scored points in every game she played while braving innumerable dislocations.

Additionally, Graham has started knocking accomplishments off of her bucket list.

She’d always dreamed of competing in beauty pageants. So, just last year, she went for it — and won!

pageant queen

Graham was crowned Miss White Oak. If she wins her next competition, she’ll be in the running to become Miss America.

This pageant queen told Daily Mail, “At my first pageant I was surrounded by gorgeous women and there was me in a neck brace.

“I’d just had four surgeries to stop my brain falling through my skull and my spine dislocating every time I move.

“I wear my crown and sash, so that I can be a voice for others with Ehlers Danlos Syndrome.”

 

pageant winner

She continued, explaining, “By entering pageants I can use my story and surgery scars as a microphone to get people thinking.

I know full well that while I’m in my evening gown I could trip and dislocate, even someone touching me could cause it to happen, but bringing awareness to this condition makes it worth it.”

Why does Graham keep going then, even in her fragile state?

As she told the Daily Mail, “I know there’s a good chance I’ll end up needing a wheelchair because of my condition, which is why it’s all the more important for me to help others before I can’t do it anymore.”

pageant winners

This amazing woman continues making her dreams come true, despite her painful reality. Moreover, she vows to keep spreading impactful awareness about her condition, which will undoubtedly help countless others brave similar journeys.

If you’d like to check out a video of Graham that she posted on Facebook, you can view it below!

What do you think of Graham’s story? Do you or a loved one suffer from EDS? Let us know in the comments!

Please SHARE Graham’s empowering journey with others in need of powerful inspiration.

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