- Associated Press - Sunday, June 19, 2016

HEDGESVILLE, W.Va. (AP) - Lexy Blair, a 16-year-old from Hedgesville High School, said she has found her own personal strength after overcoming what her doctors called a miracle.

Lexy, who has been dancing since age 3, spends all of her free time practicing routines and dancing at Extreme Dance Studios in Martinsburg.

“I can feel so free when I do it. I love the expression I can have when I do it. I can change the mood of it, the types, whatever I am feeling I can just let it out through dance and not worry about what’s going on outside of the four walls,” Lexy said.

Lexy takes dance classes in ballet, point, jazz, tap, lyrical, hip-hop, cheer dance, and modern.

“She takes everything that the studio offers, and she has ever since she was little. We offer different thing for different ages … So every year whatever she could do, she would add it to her class schedule. She has been a very busy girl for many, many years,” said Becky Rose, Director of Extreme Dance.

“Sometimes the kids who are in middle school and high school spend more time in the studio than they do at their own house because they are there three, four, sometimes five nights a week dancing,” Rose said.

But in the early fall of 2014, things started to change for Lexy. She said she started to to slow down and was experiencing headaches often.

“I had extreme fatigue and headaches. I just wasn’t feeling myself. I couldn’t dance as full out as I used to,” Lexy said.

“We didn’t know for a long time that she was feeling anything, because she’s always given 150 percent. But one day she had to sit out of class and she just sat there with her hands on her head,” Becky said.

“I knew at that point. I am a pretty persistent person, I try to push through whatever pain I have, because I love dance so much. But I just knew then, that I had to be serious about this. If I wanted to serious about dance, then I had take to take care of myself,” Lexy said.

Mary Beth, Lexy’s mother, said she knew something was really wrong when her daughter asked to go to see a doctor.

“She never wants to go to the doctor. She said, ‘Can I go to the doctor and see what’s wrong?’ And for us, as parents, we weren’t sure what to think. She was in ninth grade and it’s that age where there is the stress of high school. Plus it’s an emotional age for a girl. And to see her push through and peruse dance the way she did, we never would have thought anything was wrong,” Mary Beth said.

Lexy’s mother said she was giving her Tylenol and Aleve around the clock but nothing seemed to help. During Lexy’s initial trip to the doctor’s office, they ran several of tests but found nothing, Mary Beth said.

Then one day during dance class, Lexy collapsed.

“One her classmates called me on her phone and said, ‘Ms. Mary Beth please come, Lexy just had an episode, she had a sharp pain in her head and she almost passed out.’ Rob (Lexy’s father) and I went and picked her up and she just laid in the back in the car. She closed her eyes and cried herself pretty much to sleep,” Mary Beth said.

Lexy was taken back to her local doctor where she performed an MRI on her.

“She had an MRI on Saturday and that Monday they called and I’ll never forget, she said, ‘Please come as soon as you can. We have the results from Lexy’s MRI and we need to discuss it,” Mary Beth said.

Doctors told Lexy and her parents that they had found an abnormal mass on her brain and that she needed to see a pediatric neurologist immediately.

Lexy’s mother said Lexy was able to into the Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, D.C., “by the graces of God.”

Local doctors told Lexy’s parents it normally takes up to three months to schedule an appointment the the hospital in D.C., but Lexy’s parents wanted the best, they wanted to try.

Amazingly, the next day, Lexy’s doctor received a phone call from Dr. Roger Packer, Senior Vice President, Center for Neuroscience & Behavioral Health at Children’s National Medical Center.

“They called her doctor on the phone and said, ‘I’ll see her tomorrow at noon. I’ll squeeze her in,’” Mary Beth said.

“So within 24 hours we were down there (in D.C.) and it was just like God had his hands on everything because as soon as we got there we were sitting at registration, Dr. Packer-who is world renowned for tumor research-just came right up to us. He had no idea who we were, but he leaned over and said, (Lexy’s birth name is Mary) ‘Are you Mary? And she looked up like, ‘What? How did he know?’She said, ‘Yes I am’ … And it was like you could just feel God’s presence. We give all the credit to God. Finding it when we did, the whole process, it’s just a miracle,” Mary Beth said.

Lexy was diagnosed with a Grade 2 Diffuse Astrocytoma brain tumor, and on December 2, 2014, she underwent a 10-hour brain surgery to remove the tumor. The doctors were completely successful at removing all of the tumor.

Lexy said she is thankful for everyone who helped her through the entire process and facing the chances of possibly losing dance made her treasure it more.

“Dance is my life. It’s is something I think about every second of the day and having that taken away from me for such a long period was awful. I can’t describe anything worse,” Lexy said.

“She went from coming home from school and dancing for four hours a night to not even being able to make it through the whole school day and coming home and sitting on the couch. All she would want me to do is rub her feet and watch movies with her,” Mary Beth said.

Lexy said not being able to dance was hard on her, but not being able to see her second family was worse.

“It was even harder because I was away from my two studio moms and all the sisters that I have gained throughout the years. I didn’t get to see them for a very long time too. But they always gave me their love and support which helped me a lot,” Lexy said.

Since her surgery, Lexy has gone back to the doctors every three months to make sure nothing has come back. And remarkably, so far, nothing has.

“Nothing has regrown. It was the type of tumor that has tentacles. Usually doctors can remove the mass and debulk it to cut the blood flow of it, but the tentacles get into the tissue and they can’t into her brain matter to remove them. So, the concern from the doctors was that those tentacles would regain life and try to grow back,” Mary Beth said.

“She didn’t even have to have chemotherapy or radiation. The doctors were blown away that within 30 days she was ready to go back to dance,” Mary Beth added.

Lexy returned to the dance studio just months after having major brain surgery. She said having dance to come back to is what pushed her to get better.

“I think if I wouldn’t have had dance to come back to, I would have just sat around the house, done nothing and been depressed. But having something that I love so much to go back to, and having people I wanted to see, that’s what really helped me push myself,” Lexy said.

Becky said her and the rest of the studio thought about Lexy every day that she was gone. She said she still doesn’t realize the extent of what Lexy has overcome but that she is a strong young lady.

“We didn’t realize and we still don’t know what it was like for her to get back on track because she doesn’t complain. She is one of those kids, there aren’t very many of them, that doesn’t complain about anything. She does what is expected of her and it doesn’t matter what it takes from her, she’ll do it,” Becky said.

Although, Lexy said getting back in the studio was hard, she said she took it day by day and had to learn her limits.

But overall, dance was and will continue to be her driving force to be a survivor.

“It’s crazy how it works, anytime I am in dance, it’s like all the pain goes away,” Lexy said.

Lexy was scheduled to perform her first routine since her surgery in May 2015 and coincidentally May is National Brain Tumor Awareness month.

Becky, Cassi Rose, another one of Lexy’s dance instructors, and Lexy’s teammates, decided to perform a routine called, “Angels,” which was a dedication dance to her and other individuals affected by brain tumors.

The routine, performed at StarQuest Dance Competition in Woodbridge, Virginia, featured Lexy, who wore a hospital gown and a mask. At the end of the dance she held up a sign that said, “I am a survivor. This is my story.”

Lexy was named Dancer of the Year for Extreme Dance Sudios last summer and has been fulfilling her duties as dancer of the year all year long. This summer she will pass the title to this year’s winner.

Becky said Lexy was chosen for the way she presents herself in and out of the studios. She said Lexy is always polite, gracious, hardworking and has the best attitude toward dance and her life.

Lexy said her journey and story as a survivor is one she wants to share in order to help and inspire others.

“At first I has this mindset of like, ‘How could something so horrible happen to me?’ But then I realized, this is a story that needs to be shared with other people. Sometimes other people forget how in the midst of something so bad, there is always light at the end. There is always something that’ll help you come out on the other side, better and stronger than ever before,” Lexy said.

Lexy said going through all of this has taught her to be more a positive person.

“It’s really taught me how to never look at a situation in a bad way. But to look at situations and see the positive end results,” Lexy said.

The one aspect that surprised her the most, was the amount of strength she had, Lexy said.

“It teaches you a lot about yourself and makes you realize how strong you really can be and how to have confidence in whatever you do. Whatever it is, if you push hard enough you can accomplish it,” Lexy said.

Cassi Rose, instructor and choreographer at Extreme Dance, said Lexy is the perfect example of perseverance.

“She’s one of the strongest kids I’ve ever worked with. From her determination, to her work ethic, I can always count on her for whatever it is I need from her. With everything she’s been through medically as well, it’s safe to say she’s our hometown hero at the studio. She’s an ideal student, friend and leader,” Cassi said.


Information from: The Journal, https://journal-news.net/

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