Christina Santhouse's life is picture perfect. But, had you met her a little over 20 years ago, you would never guess that her life would turn out the way it did.
While most young people her age are still chasing success, 29-year-old Christina is currently a married homeowner with a master's degree and a job as a speech pathologist. She's achieved all of that by living with only half of her brain.
In February 1996, doctors removed half of Christina's brain following her diagnosis with Rasmussen's encephalitis at the age of 7. The life-threatening autoimmune condition causes inflammation in one of the brain's hemispheres which leads to complications such as seizures.
The symptoms appeared out of nowhere and got severe as she got older. By the age of 8, Christina was experiencing about 150 seizures a day. Instead of chemotherapy and other harsh procedures, Christina opted for a 14-hour hemispherectomy.
About nine weeks after the surgery, Christina resumed her normal activities and was determined more than ever to excel in everything she took on including obtaining a driver's license. “I think, for me, once getting out of surgery when the doctors told me that I couldn’t [drive], it just gave me even more motivation to try,” she told 60 Minutes.
Christina was later accepted into Misericordia University where she earned an undergraduate and master's degrees in 5 years. She wanted to become a speech pathologist because she loves helping people.
The inspiring woman is now using her story to motivate those with setbacks in life. Despite losing some motor skills and functioning with only the left side of her brain, Christina didn't let her aspirations die. In fact, she got stronger, “You’re going to have difficult times, but you need to find the strength within yourself." she said. "And when you can’t find that strength, look to others around you because they will boost you up when you need some guidance and strength,” she added.
Watch Christina share her story in the short video below and be inspired.
[Source: ABC News]