Posted: Sep 5, 2012 10:43 PM by Keli Moore
Updated: Sep 6, 2012 4:40 AM
"I couldn't move because I was paralyzed from the waist down, and that is when they thought I was not going to make it," said Taylor Cottrell, a 13-year-old Templeton girl who is battling Natural Killer Cell Deficiency.
The disease is rare, according to some doctors, one in a million people have it. Other medical researchers said it is simply under-diagnosed. No matter what you call it, Taylor Cottrell has been fighting it her whole life.
Her immune system is weak and her doctors say she cannot fight off the flu or the common cold. You sneeze, she gets pneumonia.
Taylor missed part of sixth, all of seventh and now eighth grade. More than anything this teenager says she wants to be a normal kid.
"I couldn't even walk to the bathroom, and it's just over there," Cottrell explained sitting in her bedroom.
"She said mom why can't anybody help me? You want to help your child, you are their advocate - and we felt lost," said Laurina Cottrell, Taylor's mom.
Most of Taylor's days were spent in isolation in bed. Doctors advised her to stay home from school because of the viruses everyone carries.
"When people come over they have to sanitize their hands," said Cottrell, "because I can easily catch something."
In April 2012 Taylor hit rock bottom when she was air lifted to Children's Hospital Los Angeles, and that's when her life took a turn.
"I had been watching a bunch a movies in the hospital because I was bored, so I watched Soul Surfer and she was down and in the hospital, but she said she was going to go back out there. So I thought I should go to the beach and get on a surfboard. And that's when I said, okay I am surfing for the rest of my life," she explained.
Taylor and I recently paddled out together. Her dream took months to come true and help from new friends, a Central Coast non-profit, Amazing Surf Adventures. They gave her a board and taught her to surf.
"Surfing has made me stronger and it feels like freedom. You only think about the wave and the surfboard and you - nothing else," said Cottrell.
There is no cure for what Taylor has, her medicine is taking to the waves and instead of doctors' offices, she now surfs at least three day a week.
"From that moment, she said mom I am alive, and she has been ever since," said Taylor's mom.
Death no longer haunts this young girl, her eyes twinkled with hope and courage.
"As long as I am happy, then I don't think I have to worry about it," said Cottrell.
"I have learned so much from her. I thought it was the other way around, parents were suppose to teach their kids, but not me," said her mom.
For the first time in 13 years Taylor said, "I feel normal!"
Taylor is being studied by the National Institute of Health or NIH.
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