January 12, 2018 was probably one the scariest days of my life. I was sitting at work and my heart was beating out of my chest. The pain was unbearable and all I could think was, “This is it…” I was rushed in an ambulance to the hospital with the paramedics on board getting a full work up, tears pouring out of my eyes. All I could think about was my daughter and not being able to go home to her that night.
I had done extensive reading about NF, and I knew while lying in my hospital bed this was caused because of the NF. I knew I had to calm down and remind myself that this is a challenge from God for me to beat this yet again.
Since finding out that I had NF about 4 ½ years ago, it has changed my entire world. I set higher goals for myself in both my personal and professional life. I never thought I would be where I am today, supporting my daughter by myself or advancing in my career as much as I have. When I first got diagnosed I was in the customer service department with barely any responsibilities. I am now the business development manager of a multi-million company in charge of all the accounts and all new business.
Having NF has taught me that there are different struggles that I will face in life. I have seizures, spinal tumors, brain tumors and larger nerves due to my NF, all of which are painful. I am a single mother fighting NF and raising a daughter fighting NF.
Having seizures daily isn’t an easy thing to deal with, especially since I don’t know that I’m having them. I have had to teach myself to live within my means due to my physical ailments and have looked at my NF as a challenge that I need to continue to beat. I have a ‘must win’ attitude with everything in life, so my NF has taught me to be stronger than my body and my mind and to not let the pain or side effects interfere with me being a mother. My daughter is my reason to keep pushing forward, because being able to come home to her every night and enjoy the laughs and smiles is enough motivation to push through anything NF can throw at me.
As far as my personal life, I never imaged I would be able to support a child, her ailments, a house and all expenses by myself. NF has given me the strength to overcome anything life has to throw at me. It has taught me to appreciate everything in life and that I need to continue to grow as a person every day to overcome this. I want to be someone’s inspiration to not give up, that just because we have NF it doesn’t mean that your life has to stop. While it may be a struggle at times it should not be a reason to give up on your dreams. Take a deep breath look at yourself in the mirror and tell yourself every day that you are stronger than this, this will not be the end of who you are.
My dream growing up was always to help others in one way or another, whether it was being a doctor or starting a foundation to raise money for those in need. I want my story to be an inspiration to those around me; to show them that I will not allow this disease to overcome me. My heart problem, tumors, and seizures, these obstacles are opportunities to grow as a person.
I wish people would understand that this disease doesn’t define who I am as a person. I have good days and bad days but I will never let my NF interfere with my daily life or my life goals. At time I may struggle but that doesn’t mean I want to be treated any less than the strong woman and mother that I am.
Samantha Voorhees, 32 years old, lives with neurofibromatosis type 1. She is a business development manager and lives in Woodland Park, NJ with her daughter.