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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- A little girl with a rare genetic condition continues her miraculous recovery. The first time WDRB met Brooke Spurlock, she was just 7 years old. Now, after several surgeries, she'll soon graduate with honors from Jeffersontown High School.Back in 2003, with her pig tails, the community fell in love with the 7-year-old.
Her outgoing personality captured the heart of many. Brooke was one of two Louisville girls at the time with a rare genetic condition called Pfeiffer Syndrome. It affected her head, facial features and bone growth. Her eyes would even pop out and her elbows don't bend. She also had trouble breathing and couldn't smell.
WDRB traveled to Chicago with Brooke and her family for major surgery with a painful recovery.
"I've had surgery all my life," Brooke said.
Post-surgery she had to wear a halo device that moved her face forward and her eyes back. The community stepped in to help pay for medical costs and the families expenses as they traveled to Chicago each week for doctor's visits.
"I think it's going to help me and I only have one more month of suffering, but one more month will go by like that," Brooke said.
And it did.
Four months later, Brooke was playing her toy piano and enjoying life without wearing the halo.
"I feel much better now that I have new eyes and I like it," Brooke said.
Now, 11 years later, Spurlock is an honor student at Jeffersontown High School. She's focused on her future, but it hasn't been easy. She's had to miss a lot of school after her recent jaw surgery, but is still taking honors and AP courses and graduating with a 3.4 GPA.
Gail Sandberg, a Biology and Anatomy Teacher said, "I've had Brooke for two years. She's a girl who has had many obstacles to overcome and nothing ever gets her down."
Brooke drives home from school and is a typical teenager. But what what some of her friends don't know is just what she has gone through.
"I've had nine surgeries total, two recent ones that were pretty drastic," Brooke said. "It's harder to recover when you are older, a lot harder. The last surgery from 10 years ago was the starting point; that was the biggest one."
She still has trouble breathing and may need nose surgery. She wears a retainer with false teeth and is planning on teeth implants next.
"She has a Cochlear implant, so she doesn't have to wear her headband hearing aid so she hears perfectly with that," said Brooke's mother, Angela Priddy.
But through it all, Brooke doesn't let her syndrome control her life or outlook. She now has two little sisters who she helps take care of and she is a role model for them.
"I think it's amazing, the difference," Angela said. "I remember when she was born. I knew we had a long road ahead of us. I knew we were going to have to go through all these surgeries and I'm amazed abut how she's turned out."
Brooke can't wait to attend Western Kentucky University this fall and already has a Hilltoppers banner hanging in her room.
"It (the illness) taught me that you can overcome anything," Brooke said. "I know it sounds rough. If you have a positive attitude, if you have a negative attitude about life, then you are not going to live at all to the fullest."
Sandberg said other students can learn from Brooke. "It's not what's on the outside, it's what's on the inside."
Brooke says she decided in eighth grade that she wants to be in the medical field. It's a way to give back after all the doctors and medical staff helped her.