Ataxia Profile number twenty-four…and let’s get right to it. Today, I am pleased to introduce Breaunna Hoffman to you…
Breaunna is twenty-three…and lives in Pennsylvania. Her journey began at fifteen when she was diagnosed with Scoliosis…and was told that she would need to undergo surgery. However, her mother questioned whether or not Scoliosis explained Breaunna’s moment of stumbling…which she was experiencing whenever she would initially rise to walk. The doctors confirmed that it would not…and so further testing was done. After a period of several months, a diagnosis of Friedrich Ataxia was given. From that day life changed for Breaunna.
Up to this point, she had been spending her days like any other average fifteen-year-old…very active. Breaunna played all types of sports…and was very involved in cheer, which was her favorite. She was especially devastated when she had to quit her involvement in that particular enterprise. However, other than the effects of her Scoliosis, and a little bit of the initial staggering when first standing up… she was not yet experiencing any other signs from her early diagnosis of FA. She could not imagine that just eight short years later she would be dependent on a walker.
But as much as she thought using a walker would be horrible…it turned out that Breaunna grew to appreciate it. Because, she found that her walker gave her freedom…it offers her stability and allows her to go shopping, hang out with friends, and enjoy herself during the time that she spends with family.
One of the great lessons that Breaunna has learned from having a neuromuscular disorder…is a lesson that is important for us all to hear and pay attention to. The life that she now finds herself in has humbled her. In Breaunna’s words…before her diagnosis, she wasn’t the loving, caring, and empathetic person that she is today. The reality of FA has caused her to slow down…reflect…and look around. She realizes that everyone has a different story to tell…and there is no room for judgment anymore.
This is such a true assessment…and definitely my experience as well. This outlook also seems to be a pretty common theme for many…but it can’t be stated enough, so thank you Breaunna.
Breaunna finds raising awareness for FA to be very important and tries to spread knowledge whenever she has an opportunity…be it through social media or participating in a public event…such as the rideATAXIA SoCal at Huntington Beach that she attended. She also went to her first FARA SoCal event in 2018…and went to the FARA/UCLA FA Symposium. Her family and boyfriend work towards bringing awareness to FA as well.
Breaunna would like to leave us with one piece of advice…which is to reach out to the community. You ARE NOT alone…though it can feel that way when you first receive that diagnosis of a rare neurological disease/disorder. There are more of us than you are initially led to think…so reach out because we are here for you!
Thank you Breaunna for sharing your story with us. We benefit from each other…and your story is inspirational. Keep sharing and raising awareness…I wish you the best.
Until next time my friends…
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