Getting to blow out the candles on the cake at your 18th birthday party might not be a major life goal for many, but for LEGO Masters contestant Annie, it was a milestone she was told she would not experience.
"At 15, I was struck down with a rare brain infection and spent the next three years in and out of hospital with severe memory loss and brain damage," she tells TV WEEK.
With doctors warning Annie and her family it was unlikely she'd live to be 18, her amazing support team around her gathered to get the best treatment possible.
"I was prepared for a life of disability, full-time care and no real understanding of recovery," she says.
"But my parents didn't give up, and sought every type of medical intervention for me. And when I turned 18, it became evident I was finally getting better."
All Annie craved was to experience life like a regular teenager.
"My peers were learning, growing and discovering, while I was isolated and alone," she explains. "I had 29 intense seizures in an 18-month period during Year 11. At my weakest point, I had more than 50 absence seizures [a brief seizure that causes you to blank out for a few seconds] every hour."
The persistent teen did whatever she could to get better, with Annie telling how LEGO gave her comfort and drive.
"It was the one thing that kept me going when I couldn't read or write anymore," she says. "I could click bricks from my bed when it was too hard to walk, and the instructions were simple and easy to follow after the brain injury. It was my rehab."
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Annie can't believe how her life turned around from that initial diagnosis. She not only reached her 18th birthday, but is readying to celebrate her 30th birthday, with a husband and two children to help blow out the candles.
Annie says getting to this point in her life and being part of LEGO Masters has made her grateful for how far she has come.
"When you think you won't grow to be an adult, and then 10 years later you're married to your best friend, performing on national TV, sharing your health story, playing with LEGO and there are two perfect, healthy tiny humans crawling all over you, life is pretty amazing," she says with a smile.