This article was originally published at Awkward
Life works in mysterious ways, and a young woman named McKinnon Galloway was only 16-years-old when her entire world changed.
Galloway was playing in a high school volleyball match when she was hit in the head and experienced what she thought was a concussion.
Doctors ordered an MRI for the teenager and they discovered that Galloway had two tumors in her brain and also had a rare genetic disorder called NF2.
There is no cure for NF2 and the disorder damages nerves that impact hearing and balance. Galloway’s mother Tracy said, “It can cause deafness, blindness, inability to swallow, affect the ability to walk, balance issues — a lot. These tumors can occur on any nerve in the body, anywhere in the body. And some people have thousands of them. I was devastated.”
McKinnon was devastated by the news as well. She said, “When you get diagnosed with a chronic illness, one of your first thoughts is, ‘I have so much baggage, who is going to ever love me?’ ‘My life is so complicated. Who would see me for me?’”
McKinnon graduated from high school and went to school at the University of North Carolina-Charlotte. It was here in 2015 that she went out on a date with a fellow student named Brandon Kwiatek, who invited her to his fraternity’s formal event in the mountains.
Brandon said, “That was really where my eyes opened. She just has this bubbly personality, and I was just really happy when I was around her.”
McKinnon and Brandon began to spend more time together and the young woman opened up about her disease, which included a second brain surgery at the age of 21.
Brandon said, “at first I was a little bit afraid, especially when I didn’t even understand what the disease was”, so he did research online to learn more about McKinnon’s disorder.
On January 1, 2022, McKinnon was on a trip overseas with her mother when she awoke with no hearing. A tumor on her brain stem caused her face to go numb and she eventually had to have surgery to remove the tumor, which caused her to permanently lose her hearing.
The couple pushed through the hard times, including two brain surgeries for McKinnon in 2022, and, on January 1, 2023, Brandon proposed to McKinnon while on vacation in Las Vegas. The couple plans to get married in Costa Rica.
Brandon said, “We have an amazing life together, and I’m really, really excited about what the future holds. I think more and more we’re just grabbing momentum.”
And McKinnon added, “He’s the one who showed me that I deserved to be loved.”
Take a look at the video below to learn more about these lovebirds!
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