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It All Started with the Decision to be Brave - by Katie Trahan

My journey with Turner syndrome began when I was 5. I was growing out of my shoes but not the rest of my clothes, and my parents (mostly my mother's intuition) knew they needed to take me to the doctor to determine what might be causing my short stature.

After running a karyotype test, it was determined that I had mosaic Turner syndrome. In mosaic Turner syndrome, not all cells have the missing or altered chromosome, so the affected person has a mixture of cells with the typical 46 chromosomes and cells with 45 chromosomes. Simply put, we are not always affected in the same way as an individual with Turner Syndrome might be, and some of our symptoms can be less severe.

At age 5, I learned that I had a heart defect, a kidney abnormality, and that I would need to be injected with a shot of growth hormones daily. I was told it was possible that I would need to have heart surgery, that I wouldn't mature the same way as other girls my age, and that I may have a more difficult time in the classroom in math and other subjects.

I was scared. My parents were scared. I didn't know what other symptoms would become more severe as I got older, and what this would all mean in the long-term. I was feeling sorry for myself, so my mom took me to visit another Turner syndrome warrior named April. April was the same age as me, but she had already undergone multiple heart surgeries. After meeting her and seeing what she had already been able to live through, my fears turned to bravery.

I knew I had the support I needed from my parents and doctors to be okay, and with the courage of April, I wasn't going to let this hold me back from living my life. I remember being so proud of myself when I didn't cry after my first shot of the growth hormone. I was even more proud when I was able to take advanced math classes in high school and be a three-sport athlete. Even at 4'11", I was a dynamic athlete and always ready to compete.

In college, I was able to join the Michigan State rowing team as a coxswain. It was a great sport to join as someone with short stature, and through that experience, I was able to meet some of the best friends I will ever have. I graduated from MSU with a degree in Communications, and I am now working as a talent partner for Lenovo. When I think back to my TS journey, it all started with the decision to be brave and to not let any label define me. To this day, I live with that same motto. No label can tell me who I am, and I will always be happy to be me.


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