An Ontario teen who made headlines when she fought back against cruel bullies who mocked the disfigurement on half her face now has her own television special.
Sarah Atwell suffers from neurofibromatosis, a condition the 17-year-old was diagnosed with at 8 months, and the tumor it caused to grow on just one side of her face elicited cries of ‘fat face’ and ‘slut’ from ruthless schoolmates for years.
But in 2012, Atwell fought back. She posted a video to Facebook in which she made her intentions to live a happy life clear no matter what the bullies called her.
That remarkable strength first won Atwell droves of fans across the internet. Now it’s gotten her a special on Discovery Fit & Health slated to air December 18.
The special documents Atwell, who lives with her family in Nova Scotia, in the weeks leading up to what she hopes will be a life-altering surgery to remove the tumor once and for all.
All eyes are on the high schooler and thanks to her video they’re looks of adoration not fear or hate.
It wasn’t always like that. ‘I thought I’d make a video and say what’s been going on,’ she told Discovery.
Sarah's touching candor won her millions of internet fans almost overnight. 'The next day I got up and my inbox was over 1000 messages or more from people,' she said.
This night in 2012, she decided to say something. Using notecards, she wrote out everything her life with neurofibromatosis, and the bullies who came with it, made her feel.
‘I have a tumor, that’s all,’ says a card the teen holds for the world to see.
‘I wish people could understand there is nothing wrong with me,’ says another.
But people weren’t trying to understand, something the video makes heartbreakingly clear.
‘Maybe one day the bullying will stop, but until then I’m going to be STRONG,’ one of the last cards says.
Among what was likely the millions who saw her video was someone from Discovery and the channel has documented a very exciting, and scary, part of the young girl’s life.
Not only is she at the brink of a new chapter as a senior in high school, the special also shows her preparing to undergo a surgery she hopes will be her last.
Sarah says she hopes to find a career where she can work with kids. And she’d give them all the wisdom she wish she’d been given.
‘If I could stand up to bullying, and if another kid who was bullied sees me and thinks they can talk to someone and think, 'I can stand up for myself,' then I have helped,’ she said.