Yes, it is!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Another Inspirational Story

This story is about Jackie's physical therapist, Julie. Or rather, it's about her daughter, Abby. Abby is now 16 years old. She is profoundly developmentally disabled but she has accomplished more in this life than many able-bodied people. Abby was born missing part of her corpus callosum. She is unable to walk, talk, eat independently, or anything that most of us take for granted. Abby does have her own way communicating, though. She has her favorite toys and she is very close to her middle sister. Many people who encounter somebody like Abby may not consider that a person like Abby has a quality of life. Abby is proof that ALL persons, whether disabled or not, have a purpose in life. I will get to that in a moment.
Julie has two other daughters, Katelyn and Emma. Katelyn is now 15 years and Emma is almost 12 years old. Right before Emma turned 7 years old, she was diagnosed with Leukemia. Emma had gone for a routine dental visit after which a few days later, Julie noticed a lump on the side of Emma's face. It was soon after that that Emma was diagnosed with Leukemia. Emma immediately started treatment for the cancer and became a candidate for a bone marrow transplant. Family members were tested and it was determined that Abby was the best match for Emma's transplant. Now I realize that there are some people who would be critical and question the ethics of taking marrow from a profoundly disabled child in order to save the life of her sibling. But, one must also remember that although there were risks involved in taking Abby's marrow, they were far outweighed by the benefits. And it isn't as if one life was being intentionally sacrificed for another.
After the bone marrow transplant, Emma was in isolation for 100 days before she was allowed to resume a somewhat "normal" childhood. She is now almost 5 years out from being pronounced NED (no evidence of disease). She is thriving in school, excelling in sports, and is very active in organizations such as Children's Miracle Network. She is a mini-spokesperson for awareness of childhood cancers.
I remember asking Julie once if she would have considered terminating her pregnancy with Abby if she had known that Abby would be so disabled. A resounding "no" was her reply and I have to agree. Julie believed that there was a reason for Abby's life and that point was driven home nearly 5 years ago when not one, but two of her daughters' lives were being severely impacted with life and health issues. By life, I mean quality of life.
Over the years since Julie has been treating Jackie (from age 9 months on), we have become close and Julie regards Jackie as one of her own. Julie has a passion for children, especially for those with special needs. And like me, I'm sure that she never dreamed that when she chose Physical Therapy as a career that she, herself, would be a parent of a special needs daughter. I love to share Julie's story because it is such a reminder that we all have a purpose in life no matter what our individual abilities may be. 

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