At 12 years old, Sydnee Lubar was surprised and frightened when she was diagnosed with scoliosis at her annual check-up. She was assured that she was lucky that her curve was found early enough in her growth process that it was not terribly severe, but was advised that it was crucial to start treatment before it got worse.
My doctor suggested three different places and I feel so fortunate that we chose the National Scoliosis Center right away. – Sydnee Lubar
At first, Sydnee was overwhelmed with the idea of having to wear a brace throughout middle school. As is typical for most teenage girls, she felt a lot of stress regarding what she would wear and what people would think about her brace. The prospect of having to cover a bulky brace with her clothes and answering the questions of curious middle-schoolers was daunting. In the end, she credits Luke Stikeleather and the revolutionary Rigo Cheneau brace with changing her life and guiding her to become the strong woman she is today.
“Luke’s brace is a lot thinner, has less plastic, and covers less of the torso. He was super kind about spending time with me to be sure the brace was perfectly tailored to fit my body. He lets the patient be very involved in the process and will work really hard to make any changes necessary to be sure it is as comfortable as possible for each individual patient,” she says.
Sydnee initially wore her brace for 22 hours a day and later was able to decrease her wearing time to only at night. In all, she wore her brace for five years. She refused to let her diagnosis stop her from leading an active lifestyle and was determined to increase her strength and confidence in physical fitness. Throughout her treatment, she continued to participate in PE class and to pursue her interest in dance and tennis.
Although Sydnee didn’t know what scoliosis was in 2014, today at the age of seventeen and having “graduated” from wearing her brace, she decided to find a creative way to raise awareness for the condition and to help new scoliosis patients feel confident and beautiful as they navigate their way through treatment.
To that end, she enlisted the help of Luke and the National Scoliosis Center to reach out to scoliosis patients who might want to be included in a very special project she had in mind. Combining both her love of photography, her commitment to spreading awareness about this condition, and her dedication to helping patients feel less alone in their journeys, she created a book called SPINES: The Art of Scoliosis.
By featuring the photographs and stories of 28 girls with different curvatures, Sydnee is hopeful that the book will help show the power patients can gain in sharing experiences with others who have been diagnosed with scoliosis. In addition, she has designated that all proceeds of the book will go to the National Scoliosis Foundation for research and the advancement of non-operative treatment methods.
“It was a great experience getting to photograph these girls. Many were shy at first, but then it was great to see how they came out of their shells,” says Sydnee. “I wanted to bring awareness to the condition while highlighting the beauty of these patients as well as the confidence and strength we all share together on this journey.”