How a Showtime PR Exec's Daughter was Cured of Debilitating Scoliosis
For THR's annual Doctor's Issue: When the daughter of Showtime publicist Trisha Cardoso and Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer Chad Smith was diagnosed with scoliosis, she quit dancing. After a spinal-fusion, however, the teen is performing, while her mother shifted her publicity skills towards helping fund L.A. Orthopedic Center.
This story first appeared in the Sept. 4 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.
Ava Cardoso-Smith, the 14-year-old daughter of Showtime publicity executive Trisha Cardoso and Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer Chad Smith, had to quit dancing a year ago due to debilitating back pain. The cause? A severe case of scoliosis, an abnormal — and sometimes fatal — curving of the spine. "It was hard for her to even sit in classroom chairs," says Cardoso, who took her daughter to see David Skaggs, the chief of Children’s Hospital Los Angeles’ Orthopaedic Center.
"When scoliosis gets to a certain point, it’s like the Leaning Tower of Pisa; it just keeps going, and she got to that point," says Skaggs, who closely monitored Cardoso-Smith’s condition for two years before performing spinal-fusion surgery on her — using a new method he pioneered — in February. Despite a minor setback, when one of Cardoso-Smith’s lungs partially collapsed the day after her procedure, she recovered remarkably quickly. In fact, largely thanks to intensive physical therapy, she was well enough to perform “You Raise Me Up” at a charity event 12 weeks later. (Skaggs says he teared up when he saw a video of the performance.) Recently, Cardoso-Smith was able to take part in swimming, lacrosse, basketball, archery and even dancing at summer camp.
"I could do everything," she says, smiling. "I didn’t realize how much pain I had been in until I played a tennis match for 30 minutes and my back didn’t hurt at all." Her mom now is lending her PR expertise to the center by hosting a fundraiser at their L.A. home Nov. 5 along with industry pals Blair and David Kohan, Matt and Katie Tarses, and Janet Crown and Steve Robinson, whose kids all have been treated at the hospital. Adds Skaggs: "We’d literally shut down tomorrow if it were not for philanthropy. We’re able to take care of kids who are uninsured because of people like Trisha and Ava."
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