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A Focus on Similarities—Not Differences

Jan 30

Posted by: ACHA
1/30/2012 12:34 PM  RssIcon

By Becca Atherton

This past week, I went to a local elementary school to talk with third and fourth graders about my heart condition, bullying and how you can’t look at a person and think you know what they are like. I explained how with my heart defect, I look normal. Looking at me, people have no idea that I am sick. So when I walk slow or take the elevator instead of the stairs, they look at me weird or make comments. I also talked about when I was younger; even when I was in high school people would still make fun of me. The kids asked questions about my illness, how I coped with the bullying and then I got a question that I had never gotten before.

One little boy asked me, “What is it like to be you?” I had never really thought of this before.

I was born with a congenital heart defect, I take pills every day and I deal with things as they come my way. Yes, when I was younger, I didn’t like the way I was or that I couldn’t run like the other kids. But I never really thought about what it was like to be me because I am me. I don’t have to think of what it’s like because I know what it is like. But I told the group of third and fourth graders what it’s like and now I’m telling you.

Being me, living with a congenital heart defect is many things. At times it is frightening and sad. Sometimes it’s lonely when I’m in a hospital. There are times when I am filled with uncertainty.

But living with CHD isn’t all bad. There are times when I am filled with hope. When my health is good, I feel energetic. There is laughter and smiling in my life, especially when I am around those who love me. I have moments of excitement and wonder at how amazing this world can be.

When I finished telling the group this, they had a look of amazement. They realized that my life didn’t seem like it was much different from theirs. I told them that besides needing to take medicine and sleep with oxygen, my life, my dreams, my goals, and my likes and dislikes were not that much different from theirs.

And I told the students that applied to pretty much everyone they will meet in their life. We may be from different places, have different hair colors and different beliefs. But we all get scared, we all need help sometimes and we all need friends to help us along. So instead of looking at the differences between you and I, let’s look at the similarities and help each other out. We are all human beings and we deserve to be treated that way.

Becca Atherton was born with tetralogy of Fallot, pulmonary atresia and pulmonary hypertension. She was adopted as a baby into a large multiracial family, where she is the second youngest. Becca was given a 13% chance of surviving to the age of five, but she is 19 years old and a college freshman at her local community college. She loves to read, perform American Sign Language to music and write on her blog.

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Location: Blogs Parent Separator ACHA Blog

4 comment(s) so far...


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Re: A Focus on Similarities—Not Differences

I had a horrible time in school having my heart condition. Having to go to the clinic to transmit for my pacemaker, kids seeing the big bulky box on my chest and the phone held up to it. I was called an alien. I think my worst moment was when I was getting ready to walk on stage for an orchestra concert and I was wearing a holter moniter. A girl told me that I was a freak and was going to make our whole class look bad. And when the boy asked why I had it, I told him I had a congenital heart defect, he blurted out that I had genital warts.... yeah worst moment ever!!!

By Rebecca on   1/30/2012 3:59 PM
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Re: A Focus on Similarities—Not Differences

Hi Becca my name is Richard I was born in Queens New York with Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome and Ive spent years in a hospital. i have lived on long island for 12 years. I have had 6 surgeries. I'm 19 and i am strong now so i dont take life for granted nobody should. I love to be around people and I love doing things for other people without expecting anything in return. i love talking to other people with CHD's please contact me as soon as possible

By Richard Utz on   1/30/2012 6:31 PM
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Re: A Focus on Similarities—Not Differences

Hi Becca my name is Richard I was born in Queens New York with Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome and Ive spent years in a hospital. i have lived on long island for 12 years. I have had 6 surgeries. I'm 19 and i am strong now so i dont take life for granted nobody should. I love to be around people and I love doing things for other people without expecting anything in return. i love talking to other people with CHD's please contact me as soon as possible

By Richard Utz on   1/30/2012 6:35 PM
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Re: A Focus on Similarities—Not Differences

Hi Becca,
My name is sarah, and I was also born with Tetralogy of Fallot and many other medical conditions. It's so nice to read positive stories like this. Sometimes its so easy to be negative and its nice to see that you have a positive outlook. It will take you far in life.

I think it's kind of funny, I am also nineteen, I'm going to my local community college, and I am also studying American Sign Language.

By Sarah Olivia on   2/3/2012 6:41 PM

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