Saturday, February 29, 2020

Case Study # 74 - April Embracing Star Trek

"April Embracing Star Trek"
April was born in Providence, Rhode Island. She was sick at birth which prompted doctors to label her a 'failure to thrive' and wanted to take her away from her family to be institutionalized. Her mother refused. While growing up April was surrounded by medical professionals who came into their home all the while assessing as to whether her mother could prove April was able to thrive and that she could take care of her.

Prep sketch--April enjoying her Star Trek book.
April had to prove she was, indeed, capable of thriving. At the age of two she was diagnosed with NF1. It was a spontaneous gene mutation and by age three, she was diagnosed with a  ganglioneuroblastoma. A genetic disorder and cancer diagnosis at the same time did prove difficult for her mother. Her mother fought for her, and April survived. April was a very quiet child who endured many surgeries. April's friends were imaginary and she would pull them out of the sky for comfort. Her school years also proved difficult as she was constantly made in fun of due to her appearance with NF and skin color. She did bond with a friend in school during that time and is still friends to this day. 

April had to prove herself in school as well. Administration assumed she needed special needs classes so she had to continually prove her intelligence. With the help of her mother by the end of high school she was in college prep level courses and went to a technical school afterwards. During her formative years, there were several surgeries to monitor the NF and countless doctor appointments to both monitor and to ensure cancer would not return. Growing up in the 80's and 90's a lot of the doctors were new to understanding NF. One doctor, unfortunately, actually called her his "guinea pig". 

Growing up she didn't like people as much as she did animals. She used to volunteer for animals in Woonsocket. Later she did manage to get jobs and keep them, As an adult she still battled with surgeries most notably the tumor on her face which cracked her hard palate. Upon checking the doctors found that the tumor has reached all the way into the brain. Surgery had to be done in which they replaced the palate with a plastic device. Afterwards, April had to learn to speak properly again while still going to work. However with all the maintenance of physical illnesses, mental illness was ignored and hardly mentioned due to her preference for silence. She was diagnosed as schizoaffective along with other mental and physical disorders and was placed on disability. 

In the 80's and 90's April embraced Star Trek which changed her world. Life went from seemingly grim, dark and hopeless to bright, hopeful and beautiful. And, most importantly, in Star Trek appearance meant nothing just the character's actions mattered. Currently, April spends her days giving to charities when she can, playing video games, starting trouble on facebook and of course enjoying Star Trek.