Her tassel was well worth the hassle

By on June 13, 2018
Congratulations to DeBalko (pictured) on her high school graduation!

Congratulations to DeBalko (pictured) on her high school graduation!

Nadine DeBalko is leaving behind Cocalico High School (CHS) and years of seizures, and she’s looking towards the future.

Her experience at CHS has not been typical because she’s grown far more familiar with doctors visits than the average high schooler.

When DeBalko was in seventh grade, she suffered from her first seizure, a grand mal. The middle school went on lockdown and an ambulance came. DeBalko began having seizures once a month and was diagnosed with epilepsy.

“I found out what a true friend is,” DeBalko said, of her time in high school and experiences with epilepsy. “I had to mature. People have said I have an old soul. I’ve always felt like I didn’t belong in high school.”

DeBalko came to see just how much of her life was affected by epilepsy when she asked her doctor if she would be able to drive when she turned 16.

The doctor told her about PA’s law that she would have to go six months without a seizure in order to be allowed to drive, a feat she had not accomplished since her diagnosis.

“That was when I stopped focusing so much on the future,” DeBalko said. “I tried to take it one month at a time.”

For many years, DeBalko was on medication which proved ineffective in stopping the seizures, until finally, the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia decided that DeBalko qualified for surgery. Doctors were confident it would be successful, and on Nov. 8, 2017, DeBalko underwent brain surgery.

It was a success.

DeBalko has been seizure-free since the surgery and now she’s anticipating the future, uninhibited. She plans to attend Penn State Berks to receive her Associate’s degree in the Occupational Therapy Assistant program.

“I’m pretty excited for that,” she said.

Reflecting on graduation, DeBalko was more excited than she expected. “As much as some people don’t like high school, I’m glad I did it. I learned a lot,” she said. “But I’m excited to move on. I feel like I can make it.”

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