Today will always be a very sacred day for me. Four years ago a very skilled surgeon placed 28 three-inch long screws and two steel rods in my back to fuse my spine. This is my 20-year-long journey with scoliosis and the surgery that changed my life.

The first time I heard the word scoliosis I was 19. My back felt like it was on fire every single day. So I went to the doctor. He told me that I had an "S" curve in my spine with the largest curve being 39 degrees. He said, "they don't typically do surgery until a curve is 40 degrees and since you are fully grown, I'd gain ten pounds and hope nobody notices."

That was the worst medical advice I have ever been given in my life. Over the next 15 years, my spine continued to curve slowly but surely, slipping about one degree per year.

I hated the way I looked. I hated swimsuits, tight clothing, and I always insisted that people walk ahead of me so I could avoid them noticing my back.

I was in pain all the time. My muscles were constantly working to hold my deteriorating spine up. At night I could only sleep on my left side. If I rolled over to my right side my ribs caved into my body and I could hardly breathe.

Fast forward to 2013. I won a pair of round-trip airline tickets through a contest at work. My then husband wanted to go somewhere warm for a vacation. I begged him to let us go to Seton Spine and Scoliosis Center in Austin, Texas to meet Dr. Matthew Geck. I will forever be grateful that he gave up that vacation because Dr. Geck changed my life forever. He was the first person to say "I can help you."

Surgery was set for October 30, 2014, and I was terrified right up to the moment that I entered the pre-op room and then a peace came over me like I have never felt before. I am not a really religious person, but I have no doubt that God and his angels were in that room.

Today I have perfect posture. I can't round my back, and I will never be great at yoga, or be able to do a summersault, but I am free from pain and I am free from the mental hold that scoliosis had on me. I look in the mirror and I feel beautiful and strong for the first time in my life.

I am grateful for the challenge that scoliosis brought into my life. It made me more resilient and more importantly made me more grateful for the little things, like being able to stand up straight!

So Happy 4 Year Anniversary to my beautiful spine and thank you to everyone who supported me through this journey, especially to Dr. Matthew Geck at Seton Spine and Scoliosis for giving me my life back.

If you or someone you know is struggling with scoliosis and is looking for support or answers, please feel free to reach out to me at carly.cash@townsquaremedia.com.