Jenna’s Story

Alyssa KirkmanACPA News, Awareness, Family Services

I don’t see myself as different, strange, odd or imperfect. I’m just a normal teenager living in this big scary world. I’m more concern with living in a time where hatred, crime and death are occurring every day, then me being born with cleft lip and cleft palate. I rarely even think about it. I’ve heard it happens to 1 and 600 births and I believe the Good Lord Above chose me… and I’m okay with it. I have had seven surgeries already and I know as a teenager there are many more to come. Surgeries scare me. I don’t like that feeling of waking up afterwards trying to put the pieces together. I have just recently been asking my parents questions about my cleft lip/palate. Asking questions has helped me to understand the whole picture, because I tend to pretend things are fine when they really aren’t.

People in school don’t give me any problems. I am thankful that I haven’t experienced any bullying. I will be entering high school this year and I’m hoping for the best. I stay pretty active in my school and community and that has helped me. Everyone knows me as Jenna – that girl with that beautiful crooked smile. Some people stare at me or whisper but I know my face looks different and they probably are just curious. If anyone were to ask I would love to tell them all about my cleft lip/palate. My close friends love me for who I am and keep me positive so I surround myself with people that will make me smile. I owe so much to my grandparents, my parents, my brother and church members for sticking by me, encouraging me, helping me, building me up and making me into a strong, confident, brave girl. Friends and family are everything to me and as long as they like me…. who cares about what others think. I know that not everyone is going to like me or click with me. We only have one life to live so enjoy it and be happy. I rarely worry about things because my faith is stronger than any fear I may have. Sometimes it’s hard, but I have to keep going. Giving up isn’t an option for me. If you believe in yourself, you can do anything. I’m a determined girl and will push myself to extremes sometimes. I just want to always do my best and who doesn’t’ like winning.

When I think of myself, I think about all the traits and good qualities I have been given: my talent for singing, dancing, cheering, gymnastics and crafting/decorating. I am also really good with computers and paying attention to detail. There are times I find myself sitting at the computer or on my phone all day trying to fix or figure something out. I would rather be alone to myself then in a large crowd or at a social event that I’m not familiar with. I am learning to be more patient with others, understanding and less in a hurry. I think I get angry at times for many reasons, one being born with cleft lip/palate, but then I have to check myself because I truly have a blessed life and thankful for every good and bad obstacle that has come my way. I learn from my mistakes and let the past be the past and live for the moment…because that’s truly all we have. In my book, cleft lip/palate children rock and we can be anything we want to be!!