I had another speaking opportunity today, this time at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, where I addressed graduate students in genetic counseling. The students had the, dare I say, "pleasure" of listening to me for a full hour!
My talk was complete with a sharp PowerPoint presentation (put together by one Winheld's World reader -- you know who you are) that illustrated me at various points in my life. There were cute pictures of me and my sisters in our younger days, graduation pictures from high school and college, and some scary looking pictures from when I had lost tons of weight prior to my tracheotomy. My favorite picture (at right) was the one of me at Halloween the first year I was in a wheelchair, when I dressed as a military tank!
As this was a class of genetic counseling students, I also touched on the issues of prenatal testing for Duchenne's and of pregnancy termination when a fetus is determined to have the disease. I told the students that while my life has been good and that I have been able to achieve plenty, if it is possible to prevent a child from being born with Duchenne's, I believe that should be done.
Certainly, I like the person I have become. However, I would trade it in a heartbeat for a "normal" life. And there is a huge physical, emotional, and financial burden placed on families raising a child with the disease. People can obviously deal with such concerns, but why go through all of this if you can avoid it in the first place?
The discussion lightened considerably when someone asked me what I didn't like about going to summer camp (the subject of one of the photos in my presentation). Yeah, something about group showers and using the toilet while your fellow camper is attempting the same feat on the adjacent throne didn't really do it for me.
But, hey, maybe that's just my personal preference!