"I want to join in the fight for the lives and the futures of others. I want to be sure that they know that they are not alone and certainly not a 'hopeless case'"
Maybe you should call her Mackenzie Edwards, MD - metaphorically for now, literally in the future! Mackenzie's diagnosis came a little later than most of your typical CDH babies - as in when she was a teenager. Growing up she knew something was different, she knew something wasn't right. She would tire easy, have dizzy spells, couldn't eat without vomiting, experience frequent chest and abdominal pain, and on several occasions was found unconscious at school. After a final unconscious spell in 8th grade, her parents made the difficult choice for Mackenzie to continue her education online from the safety of her home – away from her friends and every semblance of relative normal she had known. In parallel, Mackenzie and her family could not get any answers as to what was causing such pain and suffering, with one doctor even going so far to deem her a "hopeless case". She was confused, frustrated, and scared – nearly her entire childhood had passed and she just wanted an answer, any answer.
Through everything she had endured, the one thing she always held onto was HOPE. While processing that her life would seemingly drift off without some major intervention and investigative work, Mackenzie poured herself into researching what could cause the multitude of problems she had. Time and again, she kept coming up with "a diaphragmatic hernia". She brought the idea to her parents and with their support, they approached her medical team about the possibility of a CDH diagnosis. A few days later, Mackenzie had her answer. After years of frustration and mystery, she learned that almost her entire stomach was in her chest cavity - effectively crushing her lungs, heart, and vagus nerve. What started as a minuscule hernia and was innocently overlooked in utero had steadily grown into a major hernia as an adolescent. A corrective surgery soon followed and now Mackenzie is beginning that college career that she once thought was totally out of reach.
Like many of our Fore Hope scholarship recipients, she's pursuing a degree that will allow her to give back to the medical community that eventually saved her life. It’s a career that will allow her to use her own personal experience to empathize with others that are scared or confused, to fight with and for those who may have lost hope. Mackenzie is currently enrolled as a neuroscience major at the University of Texas at Dallas and plans to attend medical school from there. She's already has one major medical breakthrough under her belt and with her strength the sky is truly the limit!