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Cleft-Craniofacial Community Stories

Kendal Tullis’ Story

I am Kendall Tullis, and I was born with a cleft lip and palate. I am 14 years old. I would have to say that being born with a cleft lip has left its mark on me. I have learned that in order for people to accept me, I have to just be myself. When I was in elementary school, it was hard. I was so very shy then, and I was afraid of most people. I would come home crying many days, because some stupid person would have decided that because I was different they had the right to make fun of me. Those people made me feel like I was less of a person because I was born with something I could not help.

During that time, I had only a few friends who I felt comfortable with and who liked me for me. Even one of my good friends Jason made fun of me one day. He did it because one of his friends was teasing me, but it broke my heart. Fortunately, we have become closer since then. I finally realized that not everyone judges you on how you look when I meet Halie, who today is still my best friend. Halie taught me that I should like myself for who I am. She discovered that I was a great person, but that I was just not letting people see it.

I had my 22nd surgery on June 17, 2003. I am so afraid of surgeries, but I realize that they will help me make it through my life more easily. Now that I am in high school, I know that when I am myself, people overlook what they see on the outside and see the truly great person I am on the inside. I am not one of the girls who gets the most dates at my school, but I am the most liked because I don’t look at my cleft palate as something horrible but as something that makes me who I am.

I cannot stand people who belittle other people. Watching a person being picked on who just stands there and takes people’s insults bothers me, too. When I was little, I used to think if I just ignored people who picked on me, they would stop. But I soon realized that sometimes I could not just go on letting people belittle me, so I faced the bullies. When they realized how insensitive they were being, they felt bad.

Having a cleft palate sometimes makes you have to act older than you really are because you have experienced more than most people will in their lifetime. Having a cleft palate has made me realize that I am unique and special in many ways. I would not change anything about me if I could.

Last Updated: Jul 24, 2006