By Tracy Cohen
Living with a neurological condition is not easy. In my case, living with Cerebral Palsy, my body fatigues very quickly and I am in constant pain, ranging from back pain to inflammation in my knee. It is frustrating, debilitating and something I am forced to tolerate every day.
On the bright side, I am tenacious and will stop at nothing to do whatever I set my mind to, like writing a book, aptly called Triumph.
The idea was born during the Covid-19 pandemic, where I was inspired by the collective kindness of my community and the world at large. I, too, wanted to give back in a way that was impactful to people in need. Because I was going through my own personal struggles which drained all resources, this idea only gained momentum in 2022.
A few months into 2022, I started sourcing people who also lived with Cerebral Palsy and who were willing to share their unique story with me. Once this was complete, I set up individual interviews to learn more about the individual’s life; from how they grew up, where they were educated, the things that they are passionate about, as well as their challenges and achievements. I then worked towards putting together a piece about each person, constantly collaborating with the individual to ensure I told the story in a way that stayed true to his or her personality.
Once all the proofreading was complete, I sent it off to be printed. After a year of hard work, I felt incredibly grateful to everyone who played a role in bringing my idea to life. From my sponsors, my proofreader and of course the brave individuals who shared their lives with authenticity.
The experience was enlightening, to say the least. I gained so much from the interviewing process. I learnt that people deal with adversity in their own unique way and that success looks different to each individual. Life is full of diversity and I relish the way we respond to our circumstances in our unique ways. I also learnt that the human spirit is strong. There is no doubt about the challenges that disabled people face, but the seven individuals featured in my book, myself included, are resilient and are not afraid to take up space in society.
To anyone who reads my book, I hope it showcases disability with positivity and hope. It is easy to feel pity for people who are disabled, but it is even harder to challenge the stereotypes and see the individual first and the disability second. From my own experience with a disabled body, I know that I do every day tasks differently and slower, and I have my own set of needs to accommodate my body, but this does not mean that I am worthless. I can contribute to society and make a difference in a meaningful way.
Through the sales of my book, I aim to do just that as all proceeds are being donated to various charities that support children and disability.
* The views expressed do not necessarily reflect the views of IOL or Independent Media.
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