How this inspiring teen used ballet to help her heal after the saddest health issues
Three years ago, Anna Mott was a happy 16-year-old studying dance at a pre-professional level. Then during rehearsals for the Nutcracker at Christmastime, she began experiencing severe pain in her back. Sometimes, she couldn’t even walk afterward. An excruciating headache led to a CAT scan, and afterward Anna was given a devastating diagnosis. The source of her pain was Pineoblastoma, a baseball-sized tumor in her brain. It seemed that Anna’s life would no longer revolve around ballet, but instead around her medical treatment and battle against cancer.
In the coming years, Anna underwent brain surgery, 33 radiation treatments and intensive chemotherapy. According to her mom, Melissa Mott, Anna came close to losing her life several times. But even though she could no longer dance, Anna’s ballet training served her well.
Her mom tells the Gwinnett Daily Post that, “While we were in the inpatient rehab unit they said that her ballet training totally helped her bounce back quicker and overcome lots of things others without it most likely would not. They said her excellent physical shape made all the difference.”
Anna’s mother also credits ballet for helping her regain the use of her left side after a stroke caused by the tumor left her partially paralyzed. “Her training in ballet was an integral part in regaining that side back. One of her therapists found out Anna was a ballerina and incorporated it into her therapy. She had her sisters come in and tell her the arm positions to use for Anna. That is how Anna regained the use of her left arm. They knew ballet was a huge motivation for Anna. She also had Anna use the parallel bars they had to help with the use of her left leg. She gave her a barre.“
The dance community rallied around Anna. Ballerinas wore Anna’s name in their pointe shoes and gave her a ballet barre with special encouraging messages painted on it. Anna’s sister, Olivia, with the help of dance friends, launched a successful Twitter campaign for Anna to meet Taylor Swift. Through it all, Anna never lost her love for dance.
“I will always keep dancing,” she tells USA Today.
Today, Anna is 18 years old and cancer free. And even though she remains both partially paralyzed and blind from the devastating effects of her illness, she is once again taking the stage.
She recently participated in her first recital since her diagnosis, dancing a group number with other dancers at Jenny Anderson Theatre in Marietta, Georgia, then making everyone’s heart burst in a beautiful solo to Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah. Of watching her dance onstage again after all she’d been through, her dad said, “I have the same feelings I had before but even more so because I know that it’s a miracle.”
How did Anna feel afterward?
“This is honestly the best I have felt in the past three years. No matter what happens to you in life, you can do anything,” she told her local media.
We definitely believe you can do anything, Anna. Dance on, girl. Dance on.
To see Anna’s powerful, emotional performance, click here.
(Images via here.)