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Cleft-Craniofacial Community Stories

Rose Senerchia

My name is Rose. I am 37 years old and I was born with a cleft lip and palate. Since birth I have had approximately 25 surgeries. My last surgery was completed when I was twenty-two years old. I have had extensive dental work and, currently still am having dental work. This has also helped my speech.

Having been born with a cleft palate has not been an easy road for me. I have had to overcome fears of childhood. When I was young I was constantly made fun at in school; kids were very cruel. Growing up it was not easy to make friends. I had no friends in high school; I was basically on my own. I was angry and mad as to why this has happened to me. School was hard enough- I didn’t participate in any school activities. Having my classmates make fun of me made for a very tough childhood. At times I did not even want to go to school. However, despite these tumultuous times I graduated from high school and college.

Fortunately, I have a wonderful family. Without the support of my parents, brother and my sister I don’t know how I would have made it through the toughest years of my life. They have accepted me for who I am on the inside, not what I look like on the outside.

As I have grown older life has been somewhat easier. Still, no matter where I am people are constantly staring at me, but I don’t let it get me down. I have received a good education and I have a good job. But I have learned that this is who I am. This is what God gave me, and so I have made the most of what I have. Given all that I have had to overcome, I am proud of myself for what I have accomplished.

The world today is so consumed with beauty that it is easily forgotten that there is more to life than just beauty. As God said, “Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder.”

Having one surgery after another when you are young is not easy. It’s very scary. But it has made me a stronger person. Today, as a 37 year old woman, I am no longer embarrassed about my looks. I go anywhere and do anything I want. Yes, people still stare and wonder. I still sometimes wonder if I should have had more work done to correct my imperfections, but then I think about the pain that goes along with it. It has also been difficult meeting someone of the opposite sex because of my cleft. It is hard because you want to get married and have a family like the rest of the world. You feel that because of what you look like that it’s never going to happen. But, I pray everyday that God will find that person for me so that I will not grow old alone. God has blessed me with so many things that others do not have, and for that I am thankful. Life is not about all the pain and heartaches, but what you make out of it all. Yes, it would be wonderful to look like everyone else. But then I wonder what kind of person I would be and I realize that I would not be me. As for today I am trying to make the most of what I have and enjoy what life has to offer.

Rose Senerchia

Last Updated: Jul 24, 2006