NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Thousands of Americans endure brain conditions and most go through the experience alone.
A support community has been created by one woman who celebrates her recovery in a unique way. She’s the focus of Snapshot New York with CBS2’s Steve Overmyer.
The moment before a life-changing event forces you to take stock.
When Alyssa Carfi was 18 years old, doctors removed a cluster of blood vessels by her brain stem. Doctors called it a ticking time bomb.
“Every time it would bleed, it would cause for something to go wrong, and for me, it effected my sixth and seventh nerve, which is your eye and your smile on the right side of my face. I’ve had 11 plastic and cosmetic surgeries to fix the reanimation of the smile,” Carfi told CBS2’s Steve Overmyer.
While most kids her age were prepping for college, Carfi’s post-surgery life was regaining motor functions. That’s why the first day she relearned to walk, she called her “Alive Day.”
“Ten years later, to choose what I want to do and how I wanna live my life, that’s something that I never once take for granted,” Carfi said. “It’s just something to celebrate. People celebrate their birthdays. We’re celebrating our Alive Days.'”
Ten years after taking her first steps into a new life, Carfi prepared to jump out of a plane from 14,000 feet in the air.
Amateur jumpers don’t have a parachute. They’re connected by four clips to the instructor, who does wear a parachute. They are literally joined at the hip.
“It’s fitting that it’s with someone on the back of me and it’s a tandem jump because you can’t do this alone. That’s also why I started the nonprofit Brave Minds Project,” Carfi said.
Carfi started the Brave Minds Project to help support patients diagnosed with brain conditions.
For this charity fundraiser, donors weren’t just offering money; they all went skydiving together.
“Your mindset has a lot to do with conquering your fear. Having a support system, we were all here together, we were all scared … There’s a strength in numbers,” Carfi said. “‘Go big or go home,’ so, we’re going big.”
“I’m definitely hoping that we inspire people and show them that bravery is a state of mind. You’re going to have different obstacles. Take a second, breathe and we’re all going to get through it,” Carfi said.
Because mastering fear is the first step to mastering life.
“When I have some anxieties about certain things, I’m gonna be like, ‘OK, I’ve had brain surgery. I jumped out of a plane. I got this.’ That’s how I’m gonna look at life now,” Carfi said.
A total of 10 people made the jump with Carfi, many of them strangers who heard of her inspiring method to raise awareness for brain conditions.