Ragsdale High lacrosse player pushes through pain to get back on field after surgery to remove tumor

JAMESTOWN, N.C. -- Annie Gibson's final lacrosse season was in jeopardy.

“I just kind of thought, 'Oh I can’t play this year,' and I kind of realized that and I came to terms with it," Annie said.

For two years, doctors could not pinpoint what caused pain in her shoulder.

“Maybe it’s your posture, maybe you tore your rotator cuff or something like that," Annie recalls hearing from doctors.

The pain was so bad she could not sleep and needed several pills to make it through the day.

Finally, doctors realized a tumor was causing the trouble.

“The tumor was wrapped around a nerve so they took out the whole nerve," she said.

She had it removed in November and now is left with scar on her shoulder.

“He told me I wouldn’t ever be able to lift my arm over 90 degrees again,” she said.

But after numerous doctor visits, missing 49 classes and her grades taking a hit, Annie was determined to get back on the field.

She learned new techniques.

“So I would have to pull down really hard with this arm instead of push with that arm and it kind of hurt but I made it work,” she said.

The toughest task was the draw, which requires strength from the shoulder.

“There's this one team we played. And the girl taking the draw was like, 'Can you apply more pressure?' I was like, 'I literally can’t. But I’ll try.'”

She won several draws as the team captain, leading her team to their fourth straight state playoffs appearance.

“I feel like it was kind of healing, because there are things I thought I would never be able to do again,” she said.

Her teammates never doubted her or let her feel isolated on her journey.

“It’s really nice to kind of have that escape,” she said.

Annie is graduating as salutatorian of Ragsdale High School and will attend UNC Chapel Hill this fall to study journalism.

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