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We Can Do It! - by Gena Norquist

We Can Do It! This phrase was first coined by Rosie the Riveter during World War II, and it has been a mantra of sorts for me for many years. Born to a 14-year-old teenage mom on Valentine’s Day in 1963, and adopted at 6 weeks of age, I came into this world defying the odds. I didn’t know about my Turner syndrome during my childhood (diagnosed at 17), and so nobody in my family knew there were things I couldn’t do.

When I struggled to read, I had a tutor. When I wanted to join my friends and play basketball, my older brother stepped up to assist in coaching the team. When I was discouraged about being the smallest kid in class, and last to line up for school photos (always lined up tallest to shortest), my mom would encourage me by saying, “great things come in small packages”.

Her example would always be precious gems or diamond rings. When it was time to learn to drive, I was given a pillow to put behind my back and practiced with the family station wagon. When I got my first apartment, we went and bought a step stool so I could reach high cupboards and shelves. Some say many girls and women with TS have a strength and determination that tops the charts. That was probably true in my case, but the support and encouragement I got as a child served me well later in life.

Soon to be 60, I am overwhelmed and amazed at what I have overcome and what I have accomplished. I am convinced that I wouldn’t have accomplished half of what I have if not for that constant, loving encouragement to step out and give it a try - that Rosie the Riveter’s can do attitude. No excuses.

Here is a list of what I’m proud of:

  • International exchange student to Norway for 1 year.

  • Graduated from college with a teaching degree.

  • Master degree in special education.

  • Married 32 years.

  • With the help of IVF, gave birth and parented twin children, now married and parents themselves.

  • Cherishing 2 grandchildren

  • Retired after teaching 25 years.

  • Survived and recovered from more than 25 surgeries, open heart surgery being the most recent.

I cannot overstate how the encouragement and love from a family impacts the self confidence in a person with TS. It is essential to counterbalance all the feelings of inadequacy and intimidation living in a world of tall people. It is not impossible. We can do it!


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