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Patient Profile: Molly Willis

Molly Willis was in fifth grade when she was diagnosed with scoliosis. Madison City Schools were doing annual screenings, and she was referred to a doctor. Her options were to wear a brace or explore surgery. 

Molly’s parents, Allyson and Patrick, were reluctant about surgery, but Molly hated wearing that darn brace. It didn’t feel or look good, and middle school can be tough as it is. The sheer unpleasantness of wearing it made her continue to ponder a surgical option.  

Then, one week after a trip to the beach, Molly and her parents noticed new changes in her spine. Also, a rib was now protruding. It appeared that things had gotten worse.  

When she came home from dance practice saying she was hurting, that was it. Her family took action and made an appointment with TOC Pediatric Orthopaedist, Dr. Michael Lawley.  

Dr. Lawley recommended spinal fusion. And even though most people think “spinal fusion” means limiting your activity for life, it turned out the opposite is actually true. That’s why Dr. Lawley suggested it, and Molly and her family are so glad that he did.  

During her treatment, Molly developed a positive relationship with the nurse practitioner, Elizabeth Schwarze.  

In fact, they connected so much that Molly’s career aspirations have changed. She, too, wants to become a nurse.  (And for the record, TOC thinks she would do an excellent job!) 

Within two weeks after surgery, Molly’s pain was entirely gone. She was shocked and thrilled! She had to avoid intense activity like jumping, running and dancing during the next six months healing period. 

One year later, Molly has made an amazing recovery. She made the James Clemens competition dance team and is preparing for competition now. But you don’t have to hear it from us. Molly offered her own summary: “Dr. Lawley and Elizabeth were so helpful. I was ready and excited to have the surgery and they made it easy for me…,” Molly said. “We love Dr. Lawley… I can go in and tell him what’s happening cause he’s a fun person to be around! It’s wonderful to have no limitations… my every day, normal activities are totally pain free.”  

We are so proud of the leaps and bounds this dancer has made in her recovery. Congratulations, Molly. Keep dancing! 

TOC Patient Molly Willis
Molly Willis

“It was such a good experience… even the eight-hour surgery. It was such a blessing to our family. Dr. Lawley and Elizabeth (his nurse practitioner) have been awesome and we are happy to tell other families about our experience.” 

–              Allyson Willis
Molly’s mother

Molly's before & after x-rays
Molly’s x-rays before and after surgery to correct scoliosis

(This article originally appeared in TOC’s Spring 2019 newsletter.)