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Photo courtesy of Amy Brinton.
Amy Brinton Homecoming Queen
Amy Brinton was crowned Homecoming Queen in September.
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Photo courtesy of Amy Brinton.
Amy Brinton recovery
Amy Brinton remained optimistic and recovered quickly after her brain surgery.
Hoover High School senior Amy Brinton is known for her enthusiastic involvement in a variety of community activities. She is a member of the percussion section of the high school band, a volunteer at the Birmingham Zoo and part of the Hunter Street Baptist Church high school choir. When she was 15, however, Brinton’s enthusiasm was overshadowed by a fear that she would never speak normally again.
Brinton began experiencing headaches and nausea during her freshman year, as well as episodes where her speech became unintelligible and the world seemed to move slower around her. That summer, an MRI at Children’s of Alabama revealed a brain tumor that required immediate surgery. The revelation was tragic for Brinton, but it never shook her confidence that everything would work out.
“I started crying and then realized I had more math homework to do,” Brinton said. “I just knew that God gave [the tumor] to me for some reason.”
Throughout her surgery and recuperation, Brinton relied heavily on the prayers and support of her family and friends. She was able to walk two days after surgery and returned to school only a few weeks later. She credits God and the prayers on her behalf for her fast recovery and the early discovery of the tumor, which is not typically found until much later in life.
Brinton’s fellow band members were also constant supporters from the day they found out about her tumor. Immediately after her surgery, they brought a quilt and get-well cards to her home. During a football game televised on ESPN, the band wore ribbons and bracelets in her honor so Brinton could see their support even when she could not be at the game. Jeff Fondren, the Hoover High School percussion teacher and assistant band director, said no one in the band was surprised by her swift recovery.
“She was such a tough trooper,” Fondren said. “She just wasn’t going to let it deter her. She knew how much she meant to the team.”
Almost immediately after returning to school, Brinton began attending band practices again. Although she couldn’t march with them, Brinton would watch the band rehearse and read her sheet music to make sure she wouldn’t fall behind. Her determination paid off, and she began fully participating in practices two weeks before the band’s first competition.
“She still had bandages and was still going to the doctor, but she pulled through it. She did a great job,” said Fondren.
Brinton’s courage and willpower through her ordeal was a source of inspiration to the band in the months following her surgery.
“The students think the world of her. She works as hard as everyone else and has not once used that surgery as an excuse for her not doing well,” Fondren said. “It showed them, no matter how tough the circumstances, you just have to keep going.”
Two years have passed since Brinton’s surgery, but her friends, family and band mates know she still has unparalleled energy and perseverance in everything she does. Her spirit has also earned the admiration of people who hardly know her. After a summer percussion camp at the University of Southern Mississippi in 2012, Fondren received a call from the percussion professor just to say that Brinton’s presence had made the camp so much better.
“She just doesn’t give up. Not only is she very determined, she is a great person. She comes into any task with open arms and she’ll have a smile on her face,” said Fondren. “If I had 30 more like her, this drum line would be incredible.”
The rest of Hoover High School’s students seem to agree. At the homecoming football game against the Northridge Jaguars in September, Brinton was crowned the 2013 Homecoming Queen. Brinton said she was shocked and her mouth “hung open” when she heard the announcement.
“It couldn’t have happened to a nicer person. She’s very deserving of that honor,” said Fondren. “She’s that ray of sunshine.”
Brinton still gets MRIs every six months to monitor a piece of the tumor that surgery could not remove, but she is otherwise completely healthy and no longer experiences any symptoms. She plans to attend Auburn University in the fall to study zoology.