Former Beauty Queen Has Had Part Of Her Skull Removed Following Aneurysm
A pageant queen nearly died after she suddenly collapsed from a brain aneurysm before suffering from a stroke that caused her brain to swell - leading to her having part of her skull removed.
Cynthia Martinez, 35, who lives in Delaware, USA, had always lived a healthy lifestyle and competed in beauty pageants between the ages of 14 and 25, and is still involved in judging them today.
The digital marketing specialist's health took a turn for the worst on 9 November 2018 when she arrived at a friend's house for a games night with her son, Bryce, six, and suddenly collapsed within minutes of stepping though the door despite having no prior symptoms.
When paramedics arrived, they wrongly assumed Cynthia had had an overdose and gave her two shots of Narcan to revive her.
Within hours, Cynthia underwent a craniotomy to have the aneurysm clipped but a few days later she suffered a stroke that caused her brain to swell so she had to have an emergency surgery to remove her bone flap, with doctors giving her family little hope for Cynthia's survival.
Following her stroke, Cynthia had to undergo surgery to replace the bone in her skull. She was finally discharged from hospital on 6 January 2019, but her bone flap became infected and had to be removed on 14 February.
On 16 May she had a tissue expander fitted to stretch the skin so a synthetic bone could be fitted and on 9 September, she underwent surgery to have the bone fitted.
Healing was going well until 23 October, when her scab fell off and she could see the bone. Days later she had another surgery to fix the incision.
Today, Cynthia is well and after 13 months of being unable to work due to her acquired disability, she went back to her job on 16 December 2019.
The single mum-of-one said: "I started when I was fourteen with Miss American Coed. When I was twenty-five, I did Miss Delaware USA and placed top ten, then when I was married I competed in the Mrs International Pageant system.
"Although I don't compete anymore - I'm still involved by participating as judge, staff and emcee at the Miss American Coed Pageants."
She continued: "Fortunately, I don't remember much [from when I collapsed]. But from what I was told, I barely had taken off my coat when I collapsed, I had bent over to tell my son something when I just fell - in front of my friends and at the feet of my son.
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"I don't remember my arrival at the hospital but
from what I was told I was screaming of a terrible headache begging for ice.
Within a few hours I had a craniotomy to clip the aneurysm.
"I suffered a stroke a few days later and it caused my brain to begin to swell so I had a hemicraniectomy. A hemicraniectomy is when they remove part of the skull to give the brain room for the swelling."
She added: "Right before the stroke and the second surgery, I seemed to be doing fine - but it was very sudden that I took a turn for the worst.
"My family was in absolute shock and disbelief that they went from, 'Oh she's going to be ok' to, 'Wait, what are her final wishes?'.
"Recovery has been a roller-coaster. Before I left the hospital, I had a third surgery to put the bone back in but a little over a month after I got home it got infected, so it had to be removed which was surgery number four."
Cynthia's son Bryce was just five years old when she was going through her ordeal and Cynthia has had to be very careful about how she explains to him what has happened.
Above all else Cynthia's journey has made her realise her strength and she also says the power of prayer saved her life.
Speaking of her son, she said: "Bryce doesn't know the details - so I don't use words that he wouldn't understand like 'aneurysm' or 'stroke' - but he knows mummy fell because something happened inside her brain that caused her to not respond.
"Things could have gone very, very wrong. For my family and especially my son - like it does for countless people in my situation, when things get tough I try to remind myself that I'm alive and I was given this privilege of living. I struggle because I'm living.
"We are all strong enough, we just don't know it until we are pushed against the wall and forced to fight. Fight for our lives, fight for our recovery, fight for whatever it is that is important to us.
"Miracles and the power of prayer are very real. Whether you believe they are from God, the Universe, any other higher being. It's real. I have family in Chile, Argentina, Uruguay that were all praying for me. As well as family friends in Spain, co-workers in the UK, current and old co-workers all over the US that were praying for me.
"And it worked. I'm walking proof that it works; the power of prayer and miracles are very real.
"In fact, that's why I decided to publicly document my journey. I just felt that, so many people all over prayed for me - I owe it to them to show them what they did. What their prayers accomplished. I will be forever grateful to everyone."
To follow Cynthia's journey, visit her Instagram here.
Featured Image Credit: Media Drum World