Welcome to the very first in my series of E-terviews with Authentic Winners! To kick things off right, I am so pleased to feature my friend, Kerrie Bassow, who is also a dedicated nonprofit sector advocate for scoliosis awareness and research.
Scoliosis awareness is a cause which is near and dear to my heart because I am a scoliosis patient myself. At age 11, I was diagnosed with the disorder and spent 2 years wearing a Milwaukee Back Brace http://www.netterimages.com/image/1798.htm before undergoing spinal fusion surgery at 14, after which I wore a full torso body cast for nine months. That was 30+ years ago now but the disorder still affects my life in some ways, and the memory of the isolation and fear I felt as a young girl dealing with scoliosis, as well as the self image issues I grappled with primarily due to my very obvious back brace, stuck with me for many years.
Back then, there really wasn’t as much readily available information about the disorder for us scoliosis patients and our parents, and I did not have access to any support groups in my area. And of course this was long before the Internet, so I didn’t have information and support available to me at the click of a mouse like young people do today. It was really one of the most emotionally painful and difficult times in my life, and I wish I had known someone like Kerrie back then!
WBG: Kerrie, based upon your knowledge as a scoliosis awareness advocate, can you tell my readers who are unfamiliar with the disorder exactly what scoliosis is, who is at risk, how it is detected, and what treatment options are available?
KB: Scoliosis is a lateral curve of the spine developing in pre- and early adolescence. Awareness of this condition, along with a 30 second posture test at home or in the Dr.’s office between the ages of 10-15 can help prevent scoliosis from developing into a serious condition. Currently, it is unknown what triggers the curve, or why some curves progress more than others, emphasizing the need for awareness and research.
WBG: Tell us a little bit about your family’s experience with scoliosis.
KB: Our daughter Libby was experiencing shoulder pain that I thought was growing pains or sore muscles from carrying her book bag. At her annual physical, we told her pediatrician. He had her bend over and touch her toes. What I saw looked like a turtle shell over her right shoulder. We went for x-rays and the scoliosis diagnosis was confirmed.
It was gut wrenching having your 12 year old ask you if she was going to be ok; I had no answers for her, as I did not know what scoliosis was. Libby went from being diagnosed in late Oct. ’09 to surgery on Feb. 8, 2010, 5 days after she turned 13. Her curve was 43 thoracic and 26 lumbar at diagnosis and 62 thoracic with a 43 lumbar at surgery. Her spine was fused from thoracic 1-9.
WBG: In your personal experience, and also based upon your experience working with scoliosis patients and their families, what are the three biggest issues which must be addressed upon receiving a scoliosis diagnosis?
KB: I’m not a medical professional, but based on my experience the 3 biggest issues after diagnosis would be; 1) curve percent 2) where the child is in terms of bone growth 3) the treatment plan (do not “watch and wait” – check into a modified yoga or PT to counter balance the curve by building up muscle strength).
WBG: You recently opened a chapter of Scoliosis Association, Inc. in your local area. What client base does your organization work with, and what sort of information and services do you provide?
KB: I became a chapter President in my community recently under “The Scoliosis Association, Inc.” located in Safety Harbour, Florida. The Scoliosis Association is an international education and support system. They provide a quarterly issue of “BackTalk” a magazine with articles written by scoliosis specialists on treatment and new technology, along with all things related to the scoliosis spine. For $25.00 you can become a member which helps with the expense of brochures etc.
My local chapter serves a population of 260,000. Getting the news “out there” takes a long time. I will be hosting 4 meetings annually with educational speakers from my area. I really desire to get scoliosis info into the hands of our 9-13 year olds and their parents. That will be my main focus along with support. I don’t want any other parent or child NOT to know scoliosis.
My slogan; Know the curve? kNOw scoliosis.
WBG: Please tell us about your gorgeous Scoliosis Awareness Jewelry! What is the symbolism of the design? What is the cost, and how much of the purchase price goes directly to support Scoliosis research? And finally, how exactly can someone order one for themselves or a loved one?
KB: Scoliosis Awareness Bracelets was created because Libby and I could not find a bracelet to wear every day. So together we designed one! We figured if we liked them, maybe others would as well. So I made up my first website, http://www.scoliosisawarenessbracelets.com
The bracelets are very symbolic of the scoliosis spine, recognize the scoliosis condition/sufferer, bring a bit of beauty to the condition, raise awareness, and monies for scoliosis research.
Symbolism of Our Scoliosis Jewelry:
*3 swarovski crystals, 4mm=cervical spine, 6mm=thoracic spine, 8mm=lumbar spine
*.925 sterling silver “S” curve bead = scoliosis spine
*dual strands of leather = bracing or rodding
*.925 wishbone charm = a reminder to be the power behind hope for a scoliosis cure and research
All components are .925 sterling silver. We just introduced a scoliosis pendant (thanks Lisa!) to match and are tweaking the design concept for a keychain.
*Awareness only bracelet; $29.00 includes shipping/handling
*Bracelet for awareness and research; $40.00 total with $11 of that price going to The Scoliosis Association Research Endowment Fund OR The Scoliosis Research Society OR Shriners Hospital for Children Scoliosis Study – your choice
*The Pendants are $20.00 total with a $5.00 donation to the same as the bracelets.
There are several ways to get in touch with me to order:
WBG: Thanks so much for taking the time to talk to us, Kerrie, and for being my very first E-terview-ee!
For more information about scoliosis, please visit the Mayo Clinic Online:
For more information on The Scoliosis Association, Inc., please visit the organization’s website at: http://www.scoliosis-assoc.org/
To follow Kerrie on Twitter: Kerrie Bassow, @ScoliMom