Share your story - Cambryn

Jan 12, 2023 / Hip Disorders

Share Your Story: Cambryn Mannos - Redefining Myself

Blog written by Cambryn, and Cambryn's mom, Amy.

Go back a year and you could find me, Cambryn, age 9, training with the best team and best coaches in all of New Mexico. My sport is gymnastics — the sport of all sports that defines toughness, perseverance and dedication. Winning competition after competition, I was defined as the best in my age group, hardworking, fearless, fireball, hotshot and destined to be counted among some great gymnasts. I was born into gymnastics, raised at Gold Cup Gymnastics School and the true definition of a “gym rat” with two older siblings competing. The gym is where you could find me all day, every day! Until the day it all came crashing down. It began with hip pain surging with every landing and movement in any backwards motion, including back walkovers, back tucks, back handsprings and back layouts. My ability and stability were gone, just like that. I visited my orthopedic doctor right away at the request of my head coach, and on the X-ray, the doctor saw a fracture on the head of my left femur. An MRI was ordered, and while waiting, my ability to walk was gone by Christmas Eve. My MRI was now on stat order, and BAM, with all its glory, my MRI lit up black spaces through the head of the femur, showing avascular necrosis and Legg-Calve-Perthes disease, big words that I did not understand.
I struggled to find words to define my thoughts. I was referred to another orthopedic doctor in pediatrics, and “wait and see” was the advice. Then, my hip collapsed. All that I was and all that I thought I could be vanished, my definition of myself was gone. I lost it all! And yet again, “wait and see” was the approach. Now I needed a wheelchair, except after three months, I was still on a waitlist to get a wheelchair. Nothing seemed to happen but waiting, and I could see nothing in my future to be but that same blackness or death of what I was and what I could be. Gymnasts don’t “wait and see,” they are proactive and always in a constant state of motion. This is where my redefining journey begins with Scottish Rite for Children. With help from my teammate’s dad, who is a doctor, we found Dr. Harry Kim and his nurse Ms. Kristen. Their knowledge and dedication are a priceless need for us Perthes kids. They gave light to the blackness I saw because they had a game plan! 
Now, the beginning of the fight to redefine myself is not my proudest moments. I have had to do some soul-searching and letting go of a lot of pride and previous definitions of myself to build the “Perthes” me. Because at first, I freaked out at Dr. Kim. “He wants what? Six weeks in a huge cast? Nope, not doing that,” was my response. Yet, this summer, I did the tenotomy and petri casting, and I survived and even thrived with some new adventures. Dr. Kim is amazing, kind, patient and willing to fight my battle with me. Because of him, I know that Scottish Rite for Children is the place for me to get better and be a part of something bigger. You become family at Scottish Rite. I gained family. My care each time I go has been top of the line care. It’s worth the 1,400-mile trip to see my Scottish Rite family and to belong to something big, progressive and healing. 
Today, I find myself in stage 3 of Perthes disease, rebuilding new bone and redefining myself in all that I lost and in all that I have gained. I can grieve what I lost, and I can work hard to regain most of what was lost, but mostly I can seek moments that empower myself so I can empower others. I recently took photos for gymnastics. At first, I was embarrassed at the thought of gymnastics photos with a wheelchair. But the photographer, Kevin Lange, helped me see a bigger picture. I embrace Perthes disease because it is a part of me now, and I can’t change that, but I can choose what I do with it. I choose to find joy and strength in my Perthes journey. To me, Scottish Rite means the chance to regain and redefine myself! It means a new family of people who care about my health. It means everything to my future self who cannot fight this battle alone.

Thank you, Dr. Kim and Ms. Kristen, for your time and energy, for your dedication and expertise. 

Other than gymnastics, I enjoy rock climbing, math, animals, bike riding, hiking and art.
Photo Credits to Kevin Lange


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