Janet Miller’s childhood was filled with the pains and difficulties of scoliosis, a deformity that results in a painful, curved spine. Later, she would have to have corrective surgeries that left her bedridden for months at a time.
But that wasn’t enough pain for one person to endure just yet. In her 20s bumps on her skin began to show up all over her body.
Doctors diagnosed her with neurofibromatosis, an incurable condition that would cause tumors to appear all over her body, namely the surface of her skin.
Janet would spend a significant chunk of her life isolating herself from others.
The Washington Post’s Ellen McCarthy and Erin Patrick O’Connor helped Janet tell her story:
A life changing experience when she was 49 made her realize that she had been wasting too much of her time on this Earth. She was hit by a car and left badly brain damaged.
It took three life-saving operations and nearly three years to reduce the hydrocephalus, or water on the brain, that left her in a near vegetative state.
Now Janet’s turning her life around:
“I realized I had never allowed myself to live. I was very restricted, very repressed. I didn’t go anyplace, didn’t do anything.”
“So…I came out of it and haven’t looked back.”
She has started to travel the world, visiting Cuba, Russia, Italy, Mexico and the Czech Republic — and she no longer worries about what people think of her when they look at her body:
“I wish I didn’t have quite so many tumors, but I do. It’s how I look. And the irony is I’m going to look worse because more will come. So I might as well make the best of it right now.”
But the hydrocephalus still plagues Janet. She had to retire last month, and her short term memory is fleeting.
Still, she’ll be damned if she’s going to let it ruin the rest of her life.