High school cheerleader returns to high-flying ways

High school cheerleader returns to high-flying ways

High schooler Mackenzie Goldsboro has been a cheerleader since she was 3 years old, flipping and tumbling as a part of competitive teams and at St. Charles East High School.

But for the past several years, since being diagnosed with adolescent idiopathic scoliosis in the seventh grade, cheerleading and many of her other favorite activities have been clouded in pain.

A brace and other interventions helped, but eventually, the 60-degree curvature in her spine worsened to the point where she had shooting pain when moving or breathing, and she was losing sensation in some of her fingers and toes.

She persevered as long as she could, attending a state competition with her cheerleading squad despite the pain, but it was clear she needed additional medical help.

Thanks to her hard work and tenacity, along with the care of physicians and staff at Advocate Good Samaritan and Lutheran General hospitals, she is back to her high-flying ways a scant six months after a spinal fusion surgery to correct the problem.

“Mackenzie and her family have been great,” said Dr. Patrick Sugrue, the neurosurgeon at the two Advocate hospitals who performed the surgery. “She’s a very, very positive girl. She has a great attitude and understood what this was right out of the gate.”

Mackenzie says she knew before the surgery was performed that there wasn’t a 100-percent chance she would get to return to cheerleading, something that had been a huge part of her life.

“I’ve met most of my friends through cheerleading,” she says. “In high school, you get to really be a part of the school and be involved in everything – homecoming, games, every assembly.”

Rachel Goldsboro, Mackenzie’s mother, says the family was immediately drawn to Dr. Sugrue’s professional but down-to-earth approach.

“He just communicates with you,” she says. “He told her ‘Let’s get you back to what you love.’ He has been great throughout this whole thing – everyone we worked with was always extremely caring and would always explain the process.”

Mackenzie in particular gravitated to Dr. Sugrue and his practice, appreciating that he didn’t just use opaque medical terms. They knew leaving the office that he was the doctor for them.

The changes were immediate, Rachel says. After a six-and-a-half hour surgery, Mackenzie says she could breathe without the same kind of pain she was used to feeling for the last several years.

“The first or second day after surgery, I started getting up and moving around,” Mackenzie says. “None of us thought I’d be able to move that quickly, but the nurses were always there to help get me moving, shifting my posture and helping my body get used to the way it is now.”

While the recovery time was frustrating at first, Mackenzie says her family and friends rallied around her to bring her food or treats and carry her books at school.

Finally, after months of slow progress and an eventual return to limited cheerleading activity, she was medically cleared to return to her full range of activities just in time for St. Charles East’s homecoming week.

“She has been very hardworking after her surgery to get back on her feet and get back to what she enjoys doing,” Dr. Sugrue says.

Now, Rachel and Mackenzie have become advocates for the procedure and for finding the right care for the right time.

Editor’s note: Mackenzie Goldsboro and her brother Michael Ortiz participated in the Chicago Bears flag ceremony Sept. 17, 2018. This once-in-a-lifetime experience was sponsored by Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital and Advocate Health Care.

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About the Author

Nathan Lurz
Nathan Lurz

Nathan Lurz, health enews contributor, is a public affairs coordinator at Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital. He has nearly a decade of professional news experience as a reporter and editor, and a lifetime of experience as an enthusiastic learner. On the side, he enjoys writing even more, tabletop games, reading, running and explaining that his dog is actually the cutest dog, not yours, sorry.