up in today’s world, I have found that people suffer from many different
kinds of struggles. Not everything is about gangs, drugs, the military,
or violence. With the value system of modern-day society, there is
a different kind of struggle: the emotional one. For myself
and other disabled teenagers, the battle to survive…to find a way in a
society where acceptance is not a virtue…the battle to be an individual.
worst of all, these same children are forced to endure the stares and laughs
of their peers. Like many other young people, I found myself locked in
such a situation at the tender age of five when I was diagnosed with a
rare illness called gastroenteritis with protein losing enteropathy.
I was too young to know the meaning of these words, but there was one issue
that I did understand—the pain of it all.
tried to give me the best life possible, but they could not cure the inquisitive
stares of my peers. As I grew older, life became harder…I could not
eat like everyone else, I could not play. People laughed, but I tried to
be strong. Some teachers complained because I was often out ill,
complacent of the fact that I was a normal child just like the rest of
their students. No one understood me, and my mind became a jumble
of juxtaposed thoughts. I was stuck in my own
world, alone, with no friends in sight.
grew older, I began to search for information about my illness. The
Internet became my place of refuge, a place where I was not forced to show
my face and be subjected to a daily dose of teasing. I found a group that
accepted me, run by a Massachusetts teenager suffering from osteosarcoma.
We shared our triumphs and tribulations, as the chat room was a place to
just “get it all out.” Stories of being stopped on the sidewalk by
groups of older students who called out such names as “gimp” and “liar”
became topics of everyday conversation. The members of the group
slowly grew stronger, laughing about the same incidents that had once brought
them to tears.
the help of support groups, disabled teenagers from around the world have
learned that everyone deserves a chance to be known for their personalities
as well as their physical appearance. With the help of several other
dedicated teens, I work with special education students, teaching them
that it is okay to be different, okay to communicate with something other
than words. Growing up in today’s world, I have learned that it is okay
to be different, okay to be an individual. A fighter, a survivor.