|Photo Credit: Twitter Sarah Funes Brain Tumor Survivor|
Her Segway was never approved by her medical insurance. Instead Sarah received a scholarship, last May, from the San Mateo Community College District foundation.
Sarah Funes was diagnosed with a benign brain tumor in 2002. Even though the growth was benign, the tumor was still considered cancer because it is a foreign entity in the body. Her left side of her body became weak after the brain biopsy that same year. Sarah’s tumor was removed in 2003.
Sarah explains that she mentors young people because living with disabilities after a stroke, car accident or traumatic brain injury from military service doesn’t come with a guide. Sarah reflects on Dave, her visual impairment and mobility coach from the Department of Education.
Back in 2002 when ipods were black and white and K-12 didn’t have Kurzweil read aloud software, Dave worked with her to use a highlighter bookmark to compensate for her injury to her peripheral vision. She also only had use of one hand, as an after effect of the brain tumor and surgery. Dave, her Department of Education instructor, supplied by the county, and her mom empowered her to develop life skills and her new identity as a brain tumor survivor when no roadmap existed.
When a Segway worked better as a tool for Sarah’s daily living needs than any existing manual or power wheelchair, she lobbied locally for her device to be allowed on public transportation so that she could commute to the College of San Mateo with fewer obstacles.
Living the life she didn’t expect, Sarah Funes is empowering others who are living life that they didn’t ask for in a way that causes SmartyFellas and SmartyGirls to tip their respective fedoras.
|Photo Credit: F Cancer Meme via Pinterest|
Sarah says that many support groups are more for emotional affirmation rather than activism for overcoming daily life obstacles after surviving the disabling disease or injury. It’s understandable. Sarah respects that not all the existing groups deal directly of the practical aspects she calls “quality of life as a survivor”.
It may surprise some some readers when Sarah explains that she is more focused on post-brain tumor life than concentrating on efforts to find cancer’s cure. Her thought process? The brain tumor happened. She accepts that. Her mission? Problem solving within the constraints the tumor caused: dealing with the fallout. In short, Sarah felt apart from cancer support groups who were not advocates for mobility legislation.
Advocacy interests some but not all cancer or disability rights individuals. It’s understandable that not all wish to revisit hospitals, create community with parents of disabled youth, or wade through emerging technology currently for recreational use but could be adopted for use for the disabled (i.e. Segway).
|Photo Credit: Weird Al on a Segway via Pinterest|