Taryn Kaschock Russell
At age 11 Taryn Kaschock Russell first heard the term “Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis” in reference to her spine.
A physical education teacher sent her home with a note asking her parents to take her to her pediatrician after noticing a slight difference in Taryn’s ribcage when she bent over to touch her toes during the standard Adam’s Test in gym class.
That scoliosis screening revealed an “S” shaped spine 35 degrees to the right in her thoracic spine and 18 degrees to the left in her lumbar spine. The orthopedic specialist she was referred to insisted that the best way forward would be daily treatment consisting of 23 hours in a brace; her other option was surgical fusion. It was on this day that her parents asked her a very important question: whether or not she still wanted to pursue her dream of becoming a professional dancer.
“Scoliosis has shown me that each of us is beautiful in our differences”
After joining a ballet company the obstacles continued to come in several different ways; from the language used to describe her to overcoming the fear instilled in her regarding the possibility of motherhood. With leaps and bounds she overcame each hurdle, and after holding her first child in her arms that fear was shattered.
Taryn would like for each individual to be considered holistically in their treatment options that not only the condition is observed but that specialists also be sensitive to the quality of life during and post-treatment. She would also like to see changes in the language used to explain the condition to adolescents; that doctors be more tactful in speaking to young boys and girls about their bodies being that they are still quite impressionable. In her early adulthood Taryn felt pride when others mentioned they didn’t notice her scoliosis, now she wants to highlight her scoliosis. She feels scoliosis only seemed like an obstacle at first but that it has really been a lesson in how high she could climb and that all she ever had to do was look up and start.