Jacqueline Rodriguez hopes to become a nurse someday to help children like herself who spend a lot of time in the hospital.
When Rodriguez was still in the womb, she was diagnosed with rare facial tumors and given a year or less to live, the Daily Star reports. But she overcame the doctor’s predictions; and today she is a thriving 16 year old.
If her mother had listened to her doctors, Jacqueline would be dead. Like many other parents of children with disabilities, Evelyn Rodriguez said doctors suggested that she abort Jacqueline. The doctors said she would have a poor quality of life and probably would die anyway.
Evelyn refused. She saw the value of her daughter’s life, and it did not matter how long she lived or what disabilities she had.
The family has spent a lot of time in the hospital since then, but they are grateful that Jacqueline is alive.
Here’s more from the report:
Jacqueline was born with lymphatic malformations, an extremely rare condition that leads to tumours.
These masses of tissue have formed on her cheeks, tongue and chest, restricting her ability to carry out tasks that most people take for granted.
She has to speak through an iPad and eat through a formula tube, but refuses to let this hold her back.
Not only does she take regular guitar lessons, she’s also a keen tennis player who dreams of studying nursing at Stanford University.
Her disability has not stopped her from pursuing her dreams.
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“I want to be a nurse because I grew up in a hospital helping my nurses take care of others,” she said.
Living with a disability has not been easy. Jacqueline said people stare at her because of her facial deformities, and some people have said mean things to her. She said she hopes her story will help encourage other people with disabilities to see the value of their lives.
“I’m a normal human being. I have health issues like everyone else,” she said.
Her parents, Evelyn and Paul, said they are proud of their daughter’s determination.
“She is achieving so much and her self-esteem has truly blossomed – it’s incredible,” her mother said. “And I just didn’t think we’d be here at this point. I’m so grateful.”
Her father praised her for persevering through hardship and discrimination.
“That little girl just wants to live,” Paul said. “Every day she wakes up with a smile on her face and it just encourages you. She has been the best thing that happened to us.”