McKinnon Galloway & her fiancé are learning American Sign Language. “We’re stringing together new sentences!” they said
A high school volleyball match overturned the life of 16-year-old McKinnon Galloway in ways no one saw coming. After being hit in the head by a ball, McKinnon experienced concussion symptoms that led her to the ER and a routine MRI, reported PEOPLE.
Media Alert: An NF LOVE STORY in @people ! Read all about our former NF Ambassador McKinnon Galloway, the year she's had (two brain surgeries!) and the true love she found. #EndNFhttps://t.co/oTCa3sVPfZ— Children's Tumor Fdn (@ChildrensTumor) February 22, 2023
Doctors then discovered two tumors in her brain, revealing a rare genetic disorder called NF2. Her mother, Tracy, 59, quickly searched about the condition on the internet. The disorder, officially, neurofibromatosis type 2, which has no cure, affects about one in 25,000 people worldwide, according to the Children's Tumor Foundation. It comprises benign tumors on the brain and elsewhere, damaging nerves that mostly impact hearing and balance. Doctors revealed her daughter could be deaf before she graduated high school.
McKinnon Galloway describes being diagnosed with NF2: having 5 tumours, going through brain surgeries, losing her hearing, planning her wedding and raising awareness of the condition.— Nerve Tumours UK (@NervetumoursUK) February 15, 2023
Read her story: https://t.co/sgA8sZvVL2#NFAwareness #EndNF #MakeNFVisible #NF2 pic.twitter.com/j8xQDfVA8O
"The words that stuck out in my head," Tracy said, "were 'life-spoiling'." She continued, "It can cause deafness, blindness, inability to swallow, affect the ability to walk, balance issues — a lot," adding, "These tumors can occur on any nerve in the body, anywhere in the body. And some people have thousands of them. I was devastated."
McKinnon Galloway has NF2, which is a form of the genetic disorder called neurofibromatosis >>> https://t.co/lhXZlMV8rd— Spectrum News 1 Triad (@SpecNews1Triad) February 14, 2023
For McKinnon, whose whole life awaited her, the prognosis had her thinking about her future. "When you get diagnosed with a chronic illness, one of your first thoughts is, 'I have so much baggage, who is going to ever love me?'" she remembers thinking. "'My life is so complicated. Who would see me for me?'"
She, however, graduated high school without losing her hearing and then enrolled at the University of North Carolina-Charlotte. In 2015, she went on a date with Brandon Kwiatek, a college friend of two years who asked her out on his fraternity's formal "mountain weekend."
"That was really where my eyes opened," Brandon said. "She just has this bubbly personality, and I was just really happy when I was around her."
Today my thoughts are with McKinnon Galloway and her mom Tracy as McKinnon undergoes surgery to remove a vestibular tumor on her auditory nerve. Please say a prayer for this beautiful NF Warrior. #ikNowaFighter #endnf pic.twitter.com/xQUjTSoaW7— Doreen Marangoni (@DMarangoni) March 21, 2022
McKinnon, now, 29, had been the fraternity's "sweetheart" prior to the date, and Brandon had been the treasurer who had approved an invoice when the group sent McKinnon flowers before her second brain surgery, which took place when she was 21.
He had no idea of the illness at the time. He shared, "As you can imagine, I think she was a little reserved, maybe afraid and shy about sharing that information." Brandon, now 30, added that when she did, "at first I was a little bit afraid, especially when I didn't even understand what the disease was." He learned about it online. It did not deter him from becoming friends and eventually asking her out.
"If you really, really truly got to know McKinnon, I mean, it's so clear she's a person that's hard not to love," he said.
Soon, she and Brandon took the next step and moved in together. "In the back of my head, I always said that if marriage is forever and ever, what's the rush, right?" said Brandon. "See, I'm a woman," said McKinnon. "I talked about it all the time."
AMAZING: McKinnon Galloway and Brandon Kwiatek, a newly engaged couple from Cornelius, are changing their way of communicating. https://t.co/BWn3YnuUSD— WBTV News (@WBTV_News) February 15, 2023
Brandon heard her loud and clear and proposed to her after she went through tough times and underwent two more surgeries and lost her hearing. Now, she and Brandon have decided to learn American Sign Language. “We’re stringing together new sentences!” they said, per WBTV.
Cover Image Source: Youtube | WCNC