A Story of Fear and Fate

Ag student Noah Bouchard (’18) shares struggles and strengths throughout his medical journey

Yacob Reyes, Staff Writer


A bell echoes throughout the school, students flood into the halls racing to the next class, passing by the seemingly ordinary Noah Bouchard.

Dressed in a smile, faded jeans and cowboy boots he sits beside his best friend Charlotte Goff in the clinic waiting for his headache to pass.

And although he grins, it’s quite apparent that these headaches and this room have become far too familiar for Bouchard.

Bouchard with his cow. Photo courtesy of Charlotte Goff

Years ago during a routine checkup he was diagnosed with Arteriovenous Malformation (AVM), a condition in which an individual has an abnormal network of blood vessels where arteries thrust directly into veins instead of going through a bed of capillaries. The walls of the blood vessels affected by AVM are often much weaker than normal vessels, which leaves them at risk of rupturing. This condition brought Bouchard more than the occasional headaches and seizures, but crippling fear.

Since then he’s found himself at odds with fate, constantly attempting to release the grip fear held on him by continuing to do the things he loved.

“Yes, the AVM is a big, scary part of my life, but I don’t choose to see it that way. I don’t let it get in the way of my everyday life. I choose to live as normal as possible,” said Bouchard.

And with this choice, an ambition began to grow within him. But this desire to be “normal” was doomed from the beginning: Bouchard has always been anything but normal.

Raised on a farm, his definition of normal was quite different than others. He felt at home in midst of his cattle and through this passion for animals and agriculture, he found a place of his own at Gaither.

As a devoted member of the Future Farmer’s of America club (FFA), Bouchard participated in their many activities and presented his cows at county fairs. Through these experiences, he developed some of his closest friendships.

“Our friendship is one of my favorites. He’s always there for me when I need him as I am there for him. I’ve been there every step of the way with this journey of his AVM and I’ll still be there after,” said Goff.

From feeding his cows together to comforting him during his headaches, Goff has never left his side during his ongoing battle.

“I told him I was worried for him, but I always reassured him that everything will be okay because he’s a fighter,” said Goff.

With his symptoms getting progressively worse, Bouchard knew it was no longer enough to simply tolerate the problem but rather it was time to fight it.

So, as he stared at the white walls of his hospital room in Tampa General shortly after the start of his senior year, he found himself filled with courage and a confident hope in the decision he was about to make.

Bouchard consulting with his neurosurgeon prior to surgery. Photo courtesy of Bouchard family

With a warning of a possible rupture from his doctor, Bouchard decided that a surgery before graduation was his best option.

“I am honestly ready to get it out, I don’t want to wait anymore. For me, the scary part is not the surgery, the scary part is waiting for a rupture,” said Bouchard.

No longer would he allow this abnormality to limit him, from that day forward he was free. With his family and friends surrounding him he took his first steps towards his new life. Together they shaved his head in preparation for surgery the next day.

The surgery that was supposed to last five to eight hours ended up lasting twice as long, with Bouchard almost losing his life twice.

Bouchard woke up paralyzed in the right side of his body, and is slowly regaining motion. He now sports a scar double the size of what he had anticipated and is making a slow but steady recovery.

He aspires to show his dairy cow at the Florida State Fair in February, and his friends and family are certain he will do just that.

Bouchard’s tattoo featured on his left arm. Photo courtesy of Bouchard

And even throughout these bumps in the road, it never mattered much to Bouchard what was in his head, but rather what was written on the tattoo on his arm and in his heart; “Never let your fear decide your fate.”