LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - At seven years old, Shelby Jackson began to notice that her legs didn't work the way they were supposed to.
"I noticed it was getting really hard to walk. I noticed that I walk differently. And I just thought this is how I walk. There's nothing wrong. It's just me," Jackson said.
But mom, Jennifer, and Dad, Shorty, said they started to get a little worried.
"When she was probably about seven, she was in soccer and we noticed that she was always the last one down the field. When she would go to pitch the ball in, it wouldn't go very far and we were just really kind of concerned, as you know, why is that?" said Jennifer Jackson.
Shelby, who is now 16 years old and a junior at Lufkin High School, started to have a little gait when she walked, Jennifer said, a sign that something could be wrong. After visiting an East Texas doctor, the Jackson's said they were scared when they were told Shelby could possibly have a bilateral brain tumor.
The family was then sent to a doctor at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston and within 20 minutes, they had a potential diagnosis.
"He said, she's got one to two types of dystrophy and it's going to be one or the other," said Jennifer Jackson.
Six weeks later, at eight years old, Shelby's blood work came back positive for Facioscapulohumeral Muscular Dystrophy, which causes progressive muscle weakness and other problems.
"It was a shock," said Jennifer Jackson.
"We had a lot of adjusting to do. That's when you start researching and reading a lot about it and everything and so we had a lot of growing to do, a lot of learning to do," said Shorty Jackson.
Walking wasn't the only problem for Shelby, who was put in a wheelchair at age 10. She also can't close her eyes all the way and she can't move her top lip.
But she said the scariest part was taking her new wheelchair to school.
"At first, I was really nervous because I got it at like the end of my fifth grade year and the kids that were in my class, I had grown up with them since like first grade so they knew and they knew that I was different somehow, they just didn't know how," Shelby said. "I got to school and all the kids were like 'Oh my God! That's so cool. That's awesome!' and I'm like 'OK. I guess.' And then I just got used to it and now it's like a part of me now. I don't even think about me being in a wheelchair. It's just me."
Shelby said she goes to Camp Quality, a summer camp for kids dealing with Cancer and disabilities, in Houston. She said although she can't do everything like a normal kid, she doesn't see herself as disabled and loves her wheelchair.
"It's like second nature to me. Like you don't even have to think about walking and I don't even have to think about moving my arms to roll," Shelby said.
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