SNOHOMISH — Samantha Edgar, 17, has faced limitations with serious health issues, including Addison’s disease and osteoporosis. But the AIM High School senior is overcoming them in amazing ways.
Question: Your school administrator says you come to school every day with a smile despite some serious health challenges.
Answer: I’ve had adrenal deficiency since I was 4 years old because my adrenal glands were infected with a lot of tumors. The guy who diagnosed me (Dr. Constantine Stratakis) I’m actually doing an internship with this summer at the National Institutes of Health. It’s pretty nerve-wracking. It will be fun.
Q: Wow. How did you end up with that?
A: (My mom and I) were talking about asking for an internship, and joking that he’d probably just say apply, like he normally does. … I asked “if I can maybe shadow you this summer and, um, hang out?” He was like, “Of course.” All the interns just stared at me. (Most of them are in medical degree programs) who’ve applied five times.
Q: What do you hope to get from it?
A: I’m hoping to understand my own thing a little bit more afterward, and then have opportunities after that stem from it. It’ll be interesting at least.
Q: Your mom is planning to rent an apartment and live out there with you.
A: I’m still her baby. … If anything, though, it’s the best place to have an issue.
Q: Your last life-threatening experience was when you were 10. You had the flu and were unable to keep down your medications, which you need to take three times a day. What other issues are you susceptible to?
A: If I am to break a bone or something I could go into what’s called adrenal crisis. (The body) goes into shock.
Q: And yet …
A: I do mounted archery, which is horseback archery. My mom is pretty much nervous every time I go down the course because I’m probably going around 30 (mph) and shooting an arrow at a target or five.
Q: That looks difficult — and, also, you look awesome.
A: It gets easier with practice. But I have to thank my horse a lot because he’s amazing, and my trainer Katie Stearns.
Q: What’s your horse’s name?
A: Woody, or Woodrow. He has a lot of nicknames. He used to be a really fancy show horse. But he didn’t like it. I said, “OK, we’re going to make you a real horse now.”
Q: How long have you been riding?
A: Since I was about 5. I was just always a horse girl. As a baby, they say I used to go in my sister’s room and steal just the horses from the Barbie sets and American Girl horses. And archery — I fell in love after watching “Lord of the Rings” and all that.
Q: You were a junior champion in 2014 and 2015. What does it feel like when you go down a course?
A: It feels very freeing. Because I do have a lot of limitations with school and stuff with the disease thing. … Getting hurt could either be life-threatening or just fine. But when I’m on my horse going down and shooting and hearing the people cheering down at the end, it’s like I don’t have those limitations anymore.
Q: You also volunteer every Friday at The NOAH Center in Stanwood, an animal shelter. You have a new pet from there as well?
A: He’s a kitten. We have three cats now. … He’s a big sweetheart. His name is Finn, for Finnigan. He has big paws. He’s also apparently very good at waking me up. He licks my nose so I can’t even be mad at him.
Q: What’s next for you after the internship?
A: After that I’m taking a year off school. I’m going to travel with my dad. He travels a lot for his job; he works for Panasonic and sells weather systems. I’m looking forward to seeing everything — and seeing my dad. With all the traveling, I don’t see him much. It’s going to be very fun to say I’ve been to (Singapore and Japan) and had that experience. After that I’ll go to a community college for two years, and then transfer to a four-year … Before that I might take dental assisting and massage to just have that backup and maybe a job while going to college.
Q: How does it feel to be at this stage in life?
A: It’s kind of scary, but pretty exciting because I’ll feel like I’ve really accomplished doing something and going ahead more in my life being an adult and figuring out what I’ll do with my life. It’s going to be hard. But what isn’t?
Melissa Slager: firstname.lastname@example.org; 425-339-3432.