CHESTER, Va. – A 22-year-old woman keeps the pages turning in her story, as she recovers from two brain tumors and works towards a nursing degree.
Alexa Nixon is moving closer to her goal to work inside a hospital.
“Nursing is a job that I will want to wake up and want to go to,” Nixon says. “I feel like it is my calling.”
The young woman from Chester hunches over thick books, studying pages for hours a day.
“It is stressful right now,” she says. “A lot of studying.”
The medical professionals who saved her life are now inspiring her to pay it forward even if it means years of studying. But after what Alexa endured, tackling monstrous textbooks is a walk in the park.
“So, VCU Medical Children Center I would love to work there. That is my dream right now,” says Alexa.
In 2005, at the age of 11, Alexa suffered a seizure while at an amusement park.
“It was terrifying,” says Alexa.
Alexa’s mother, Susan, was blindsided.
“We took her to the hospital and they found a brain tumor,” she says. “That was a shock.”
A tumor the size of a ping pong ball was removed from Alexa’s tiny head.
“I couldn’t move my left side at all,” says Alexa. “A doctor came in and told me I would never walk again.”
But thanks to weeks of therapy and a competitive spirit that helped her thrive in the pool, and on the volleyball and basketball courts, Alexa would recover.
“I just knew she was going to work so hard and she did,” says Susan.
But a few short years later the seizures would return; hundreds of them.
“I start shaking and I feel like I am falling,” says Alexa. “I was mad.”
In 2012, doctors deliver a devastating diagnosis. The tumor regrew. The 18-year old was back to square one.
“In January they did three brain surgeries within eight days,” she recalls.
But through the physical and mental hardships, Alexa did not give up.
“I could feel the determination during therapy,” says Alexa.
Now healthy, Alexa is thankful for yet another chance.
“I’m extremely optimistic,” says Alexa. “I find the silver lining in everything.”
“She inspires me daily,” says her mother, Susan.
“I want to care for others,” Alexa says. “If they are in pain I want to help them.”
When she is not studying Alexa volunteers her time with the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation.
If you know someone who you think fits the profile for my “Heroes Among Us” email reporter Greg McQuade at Heroes@WTVR.com