I remember that day so clearly, the day we were told our baby has Cerebral Palsy as if it was yesterday. I was sitting on a chair opposite the paediatrician, she was writing her notes on the desk and drops in conversation, “well Dana has Cerebral Palsy”. No facts, no explanation, no guidance, no support. I was then told physiotherapy will be intouch to arrange an appointment. I looked at my husband and he looked at me shocked and confused. What did she just say?. I asked her to repeat what she had said and she added Dana would never hold a pen and able to write. Oh and then added Dana will also be confided to a wheelchair for life. I thought I had already sunk to the lowest point, yet hearing this just buried me further into the ground.
I’m not sure how we managed to get home once we left the paediatricians office. We drove, that much I do know yet have no memory of the journey. I was numb. I looked at my beautiful daughter in her car seat, perfect, smiling and holding her toy. I was convinced this was a mistake and they had confused her with another baby. But what if this was true? What would her future look like? I switched on the computer and Googled Cerebral Palsy as we had nothing to guide us from the paediatrician. The searches appeared and did not show a hopeful picture. I looked at my daughter and then back at the screen. They were nothing alike. They got it wrong. Deep down I knew they were correct, but all I could do in that moment was cry. It took me that moment of crying for a wave of protectiveness to come over me. I made a vow to myself that the images on the screen were not going to be my daughter. I would do what ever it takes to make sure she led an independent and full life.
Well a week has passed since that day at the paediatricians office without a single physio appointment. Little did I know today was the catalyst in making things happen rather than waiting for things to happen. Today was the foundation I laid and the path followed for years to come. Today Dana’s needs came first regardless. When what was promised didn’t materialise, I made it happen. When a comment was made that had no substance, I questioned. When I was told my daughter would never hold a pen or able to do things her peers did, I proved she could. Her disability does not define Dana as a person. She happens to have Cerebral Palsy. Throughout her childhood her disability has given her resilience and a strong will. Dana spent over 10 years at Stageschool learning drama and singing along side her peers. She acted on TV and appeared in a number of promotional campaigns including Red Nose. She has spent many hours in photo shoots and attended numerous auditions. She went to ballet and dance classes. All these experiences have exposed her to a world alongside her peers. A world with no limits. Her future path is not what the doctors had said. Her future path is taking responsibility and empowering from a young age.
Today, as an 18 years old Dana has defied every single person. From school to doctors who either said she would not achieve anything or laughed at her dreams. She exceeded teachers expectations achieving 3 distinction stars and is studying Law in University. She is walking with sticks. She has become an independent and confident young lady with a strong and focused self-belief.
I remember a teacher once told me Dana was very lucky to have secured a place in 6th form to study. The truth is Dana was not lucky, she had self belief and determination to achieve her dream.
When you have these qualities, nothing will stop you.