No, a Chiari is _Not_ a New Hip Wine...

Can you help? My best friend’s daughter, Sydney (20), needs brain surgery, possibly several surgeries, to correct a congenital defect at the base of her brain/top of her spine.

You see, Sydney Cooper is a fighter, and now currently faces the third life-threatening condition of her young life. It’s called a Chiari Malformation, a condition where the lower part of the brain, the cerebellar tonsil, herniates down through the base of the skull and into the spinal column.

This intrusive tissue blocks the flow of cerebrospinal fluid. Not only does the blockage cause severe head and neck pain, it can cause a buildup of fluid in the spinal cord or in the brain (called hydrocephalus).

Chiari malformations can be discovered at a child’s birth, or are discovered when the person is in their 20s and 30s (due to the severity of symptoms), which is what has happened with Sydney. Chiari malformations are often misdiagnosed because the soft tissue and bone problems result in a wide variety of symptoms including: headache, neck pain, shoulder pain, dizziness, muscle weakness, sleep problems, digestive issues, and extreme fatigue.

Syd’s condition is so severe it necessitates immediate surgery. If the malformation exceeds five mm into the spinal column it is a surgical condition. Her malformation extends 17 mm, making it an extreme case with potentially serious surgical complications.

Furthermore, Sydney also suffers from Lupus for which there is no cure, and has battled Anorexia Nervosia, so severe that when admitted to an inpatient residential treatment center in 2016, she weighed 82 pounds and her heart had begun to go into hibernation. Thankfully Syd made a full recovery, and her ED is in remission.

Even with these medical challenges, Sydney graduated high school on time and with Honors. In the fall of 2017, she flew across the country to attend the CIA in Northern California to fulfill her dream of becoming a pastry chef. By her second semester, she was suffering from intense headaches, neck pain, extreme fatigue and cognitive issues, but still finished the semester with a 3.5 GPA in their rigorous and prestigious cooking curriculum.

Sydney returned in the fall of 2018 for her second year, but was forced to withdraw after the first week for medical reasons. After months of lab tests and medical evaluation, the chiari malformation was discovered during an MRI of her brain in January. She is scheduled for Chiari Malformation decompression surgery on March 27, 2019.

Any donation amount you might contribute will be used to offset the astounding costs related to her surgery and recovery, from student loan interest payments because her loans are in medical forbearance with her unable to attend the CIA, to physical and emotional therapy visits that are out of network, to supplies that will aid her convalescence, to the lost wages her parents will incur from being unable to work full-time during her hospital stays and post-surgical convalescence at home.

That old adage, “Well, at least it’s not brain surgery!” that we use sometimes to put things in perspective? Well, this time it is brain surgery. Thank you for helping this brave young woman have a chance at a healthy future!
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Organizer and beneficiary

Julia Lammert 
Organizer
Wilmington, NC
Shawn Cooper 
Beneficiary
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