Advocate for Yourself - by Jacqueline Wooldridge
“I can’t believe that I’m turning 40 this year,” is the thought running through my mind as I sit to type this. My name is Jacquelyn Wooldridge. I am a 39, almost 40 *shudders* year old woman with mosaic Turner syndrome (TS). I have been an advocate for spreading awareness of Turner syndrome since I was a young girl. I was diagnosed at the age of five after my parents forced my pediatrician to recognize that there was something wrong and that I did not JUST inherit the short stature of my mother’s side of the family nor my paternal grandmother’s height.
At one well child check, my mom stood my two-year-old sister next to me and seeing the fact I was the same size, it made them reluctantly set up the karyotype testing to find out what genetic disorder I had. Well, as it turned out, I had TS. I was 5 and just starting kindergarten. I was lucky at that first school and either did not experience or was blissfully unaware of any teasing and bullying behind my back.
It was not until I was in the 1st Grade that I experienced bullying to my face. But never again. I was not shy and finally went to the administration. Well, my vice principal, whom I am friends with to this day, made the two boys who were calling me names come to my class and apologize in person, and then had me explain why I was so short. By the end, these boys were truly sorry and crying. They came up to me the next day of their own free will and truly apologized.
Over the next few years, I became a member of the Turner Syndrome Society US and the Bay Area Turner Syndrome Society group in California, where I met Rosemary Morris and Brandy Greening-Pretsaky, both of whom have become some of my dearest friends and sisters in TS. While I became busy with life and dropped from the groups in 1995, I rejoined in 2015. The pretext was I had become a surgery scheduler for an ophthalmologist in Sacramento and met another friend with TS that had NEVER met anyone else with TS in her life. So, from then, I made it my mission to get her connected to the TS community.
I also helped plan the Sacramento TSSUS Chasing Butterflies Walks from 2016 to 2019. For these walks, I became the public relations coordinator and was successful in getting our cause on four, yes, count them, four different news outlets in 2016, and in 2017, myself and Rosemary did an interview with a local radio group, who played it 7 times on 7 different radio stations.
Recently, I was also successful in getting Idaho Governor, Brad Little, to sign a proclamation declaring February 2022 as Turner Syndrome Awareness Month. My words for my sisters in TS, “Never stop fighting for what you believe in. Advocate for yourself in life and in your healthcare. And remember, you are #TurnerStrong”.