Writer and PWD rights advocate Kcat Yarza has decided to join PWDPhil as founding member and consultant. Kcat was not born with the disability, she has neurofibromatosis type 2. It is a condition where tumors grow in various parts of her nervous system leading to permanent deafness and paralysis of certain part of her body and facial muscles. While in the last semester of college, the tumors had spread so badly that she had to drop out of college and begin what would be the most painful and challenging crisis of her life.
However, through the years, Kcat decided to fight her condition and than be defeated by it. As her condition worsened, Kcat grew stronger and fought ever more fiercely. Learning from her example, we must never give in to self-pity, no matter how strong the urge may be. In her fight against her disabilities, she also had to fight the social stigma of her condition. Being born as a child with clear hearing and healthy limbs, Kcat’s resolve was tested to its maximum when slowly she could no longer hear and move around as usual.
The social stigma of a disability, especially when the disability comes when you are the peak of your youth is painful and debilitating in itself. There are many ways of coping with the stigma of a physical disability. One is avoidance of meeting new people. Because people who do not know of a disability tend to react rather awkwardly or even sometimes with apathy, still others with hate and ridicule, there are PWDs who would rather avoid meeting people entirely and stick with family and friends. Although the isolation protects PWDs from embarrassment and emotional hurt, it is also caps their experiences and precludes them from opportunities that could bolster their livelihood, personal growth or even receive treatments for their conditions. Another way of coping is for PWDs to barricade themselves with exclusively friends and family, as many PWDs have been known to do. However, this also precludes them from opportunities and personal growth advancement. The most recommended coping technique is for PWDs to make others comfortable with their disability. Such is Kcat Yarza. When this writer first met her, it was pleasant and light. No sob stories, no wallowing in pity, no tears about her condition. We were talking shop mostly on what she can do for the group and possible projects we can all do for the good of the PWDs in general. Kcat even made a joke (which I found so funny) about her disability. The conversation went like this:
Madge (her mom): Kcat lip reads very well so even if she can’t hear you she can still understand you.
Me: I know of a fellow writer who lip reads very well that’s why I never he is hearing-impaired until he told me.
Kcat: Magaling ba sya mag-lip read? Sabihin mo kontes kami kung sino mas magaling sa min. If he can lip-read me then magaling nga sya. (Kcat Yarza’s facial muscles are paralyzed and her lips don’t move when she speaks, only her teeth, jaw and tongue.)
I was surprised at her sense of humor. Yes, she has made me feel comfortable with her disability. She is an amazing woman indeed. Kcat Yarza blogs at www.kcatyarza.com