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From Victim to Warrior: Teen Turns Her Back Brace into Armor

The Short of It

When this teen didn't like the brace she had to wear after surgery, she turned it into armor with the help of a friend.

The Lowdown

Maddie Cable has had to wear a back brace since late November, when she woke up from spinal surgery following a car accident that left her with a fractured vertebra. The worst part? All the stares she was receiving from her classmates.

"I felt like they saw the brace and not me," the 17-year-old told "I felt like all they were thinking about and looking at were the brace and the accident and not me or who I am."

So Maddie and her friend Sarah Chacko decided to get their DIY on and do something about it—Project Runway style. Using paint, rivets, paper fasteners, and a gear stencil, the creative kids turned the bland white brace into a cool piece of armor that made Maddie look like a Steampunk Warrior.

"To me, it looks like armor, and I feel that it really symbolized the battle I'm fighting with recovery," she said. "It makes me feel like I'm a warrior in this battle of recovery. Once I had the finished brace on, I didn't feel embarrassed anymore, and I didn't mind people staring. I was very, very happy and felt proud and accomplished, and my self-esteem went up from wearing it."

The Upshot

Maddie says her newfound confidence is helping with her recovery.

"It has given me that push, so to speak," she said. "Just to keep moving, to keep going forward and to keep stepping forward, even if it's a tiny step, and see every part as a victory instead of letting it hold me back."


Maddie's mom, Linda, who posted photos of the bronze brace on Facebook, says she couldn't be happier with the change in her daughter.

"It's been a good thing to see," she said. "You expect a lot of conflict with a teen at this age, but she's become much more aware of others and much more desiring to have a positive effect on the world."

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