Home / Stories / Overcoming Adversity and Thriving in Sports: Kerry’s Inspiring Journey
Case Study:

Kerry’s remarkable story of resilience and triumph showcases the best of the human spirit and the transformative power of physical activity.  

Born with a hole in her heart, Kerry, originally from Coventry and now living in Antsy, was told that her ability to crawl or walk would be severely limited. However, she defied expectations, surpassing milestones and proving her doctors wrong. Her journey, marked by challenges and triumphs, is a testament to her unwavering determination and she is sharing her story as part of Think Active’s Moving Stories campaign. 

Think Active is the regional active partnership, responsible for inspiring more people to get active and improve their physical and mental wellbeing in Coventry, Nuneaton & Bedworth, Solihull and Warwickshire.  

The hole in Kerry’s heart miraculously healed itself and closed during her teens, but while that brought an end to the monthly trips to hospital for MRI scans, it turned out to not be the end of her relationship with hospital beds.  

During a cross-country race for school, Kerry’s life took another unexpected turn. While gasping for breath at the end of another successful race, Kerry’s teacher noticed a large protruding lump on her back. An urgent visit to the hospital revealed that Kerry actually had a double curvature of the spine, known as scoliosis. The condition in Kerry’s spine was quite severe with the curves measuring 43% and 35%. Because of the double curvature, the condition had been balanced itself out and had gone unnoticed. After a lot of appointments and assessments the medical team decided that any kind of surgery was not possible until Kerry had stopped growing. 

Despite the physical challenges she faced, Kerry nurtured a deep passion for sports. The curvature of her spine restricted her lung capacity and oxygen intake, making exercise a daunting task. Nevertheless, she received continuous encouragement from teachers, staff, and parents, who stressed the importance of staying active to maintain a healthy weight. 

Playing club hockey at 17, Kerry faced a pivotal decision when doctors informed her that having the operation would prevent her from playing hockey, trampolining, or skiing. Initially hesitant, Kerry’s love for the sport won over her fears, and she ultimately underwent the operation. Wearing a whole-body cast during her recovery, Kerry’s commitment to an active lifestyle proved instrumental in her quicker-than-expected healing process. A rod was inserted along her spine, correcting the curvature and providing stability. Despite experiencing a distinct hot and cold sensation due to the rods, Kerry gained 1.5 inches in height following the surgery. 

Remarkably, Kerry was discharged just a year after the operation, without requiring any additional physiotherapy. The medical professionals attributed her swift recovery to her pre-operative activity levels. Bedridden for two and a half weeks after the operation, including a brief period in an induced coma to minimise movement, Kerry’s long-term dedication to an active lifestyle played a crucial role in her remarkable progress. 

Besides her spinal condition, Kerry also manages an under-active thyroid, taking daily medication to keep her weight under control. Staying active has proven to be a key factor in maintaining her physical well-being alongside her medication. 

Kerry’s sporting achievements are truly awe-inspiring. She has played in every Warwickshire and Midlands league, including the national league for hockey. Her accolades include representing England in the mixed squad and the home nations over 40s England squad, where she emerged as the top scorer. Kerry’s team also were runners up in the 2023 Club Masters Cup competition at Lee Valley London. Additionally, she has excelled in football, playing for notable clubs such as Daventry Town and Rugby Town. Kerry’s dedication to sports extends to coaching as well, sharing her passion for hockey at both club and county levels, and mentoring young players as they progress from juniors to seniors. 

Reflecting on her journey, Kerry’s determination and resilience shine through. She shares, “Sometimes when you’re told you can’t do something, it just becomes the fire in your life to prove that you can do it. Initially, it was just a desire to defy diagnoses, and now it is proof that in this phase of my life, I can still do it.” Kerry’s story serves as a reminder that nothing is impossible when there is a burning passion and an unwavering hope to achieve. She encourages others to persevere and seek the right environment for growth and support. 

Abi Dixon, a spokesperson for Think Active, emphasized the importance of Kerry’s story: “Kerry’s journey exemplifies the human capacity to overcome adversity and achieve incredible feats through physical activity. Her determination and dedication are truly inspirational. Kerry’s story is a testament to the profound impact that an active lifestyle can have on our physical and mental well-being.” 

For those interested in pursuing hockey, Kerry suggests reaching out to local clubs, many of which offer “back to hockey” sessions as a gateway, to learn more about the sport. 

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