Being a cleft is indeed not easy, but it has refined and changed my views for the better. – Vhince Nakar (NCFPI Patient)
I would like to start my story as beautiful as it could be like those in fairy tales. Sadly, real life is never similar to fairy tales, but I hoped it did. I was born with cleft lip and palate. It’s a defect that has affected my speech, teeth, facial structure, and even my social life.
Because of my disability, I was bullied and treated as an outcast in every social group I am in. As sad it may be, I even received discrimination from my very own relatives. Hearing it as a kid, knowing what they meant, was very painful and unimaginable. I would go to the side of our house, and cry to myself until I become numb. I ask questions like “Why am I like this?”or “Did I do something wrong?” Sometimes I would pray and ask God for answers.
It was a very sad chapter in my life. This routine and discrimination lasted until I was 14 years old. All of my elementary memories consisted of crying on the side of the table. Because of that my level of intelligence was way behind compared to my classmates. My classmates would read an entire story, while I don’t even know how to read. I was enrolled in a private school, but my life in that school was pretty much isolated and lonely.
At the start of high school, a new enrollee in my school approached me and became my friend. She was someone I can really define as the turning point of my life, from an outcast to a slightly outcast. She was a perfectionist, an excellent sketch artist, a writer, a musician, a polyglot, and a science genius. Sharing lunch with her was something that I hadn’t experience for the entire 6 years of my elementary life. She taught me that knowledge is something that we can hold onto forever and curiosity is something we all should have. With my severe nasal speech, we were able to talk about a lot of things. Because she was a polyglot, her first language is English, and we often conversed in that language. Even though my English literacy was from Dora, Peppa Pig, and Phineas & Ferb, I was able to learn proper structure of conversations, grammar, and I even caught some of her knowledge in Science. It was the time that I felt I’m not alone and that there are people who can appreciate me for who I am.
In my last year in junior high school, one of my mother’s friend told us about NCFPI, about how it can help people with facial deformities with care that is equipped from childhood to adulthood. A year later, my auntie who is currently living in Manila urged me to go there and to have my first check-up. I still remember that moment vividly. The person from NCFPI who first saw me was Ma’am Gina Sevilla. She was heartwarming, and her smile was contagious. She led us to Philippine General Hospital where I met surgeons who examined me so they can help me.
A month later, I was scheduled for my very first surgery with NCF. It was an Alveolar Bone Graft. Just a month of waiting, NCFPI has provided so much care to me. They offered speech therapy to help with my proper pronounciation of words. They offered dental services that are specialized for clefts. Up until know I am a patient of NCFPI and I can say with confidence that they offer world class services.
Being a cleft patient is indeed not easy, but it has refined and changed my views for the better. I am now a second-year student in a state university at my home province. All I can I say is that every tear that I shed and every hardship I endured have made me who I am today.
My life is still a work in progress.
“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”