Morgan Briarwood (briarwood) wrote,
Morgan Briarwood

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Disabled is scary now?

Most of you know I lost my Dad to cancer when I was very young. Something I don't think I've blogged about is that before he died he had several surgeries to treat the cancer. This was in the late 1970's; chemotherapy was relatively new and a horrific experience. It's none too pleasant now, but back then it was literally a case of the cure being worse than the disease. Dad refused it, though he did have radiation therapy. It didn't work.

Dad had three major operations over two years to take out his tumors. The tumor was located underneath his right arm. On the third occasion, the surgeon had to amputate his whole arm.

When an amputation is performed because of an injury, there's usually part of the limb left, though it might not be useful. In Dad's case, the location of the tumor meant that they had to take the whole arm, including the shoulder. He had a prosthetic arm, but I remember him using it only once; I don't recall the occasion but I do remember it was something for which he had to wear a suit, so I'm guessing it was a wedding or a christening. He had a few things I remember to make everyday tasks easier: he learned to use a combined knife and fork at dinner, we switched from a geared car to an automatic and he had a ball-and-stick attached to the wheel so he could steer with one hand. There were probably other things I don't remember. I would have been four or five years old at the time.

Dad was the first disabled person I ever knew and for several years after his death he was the only visibly disabled person I'd ever seen.

Where am I going with this? Parents have been complaining to the BBC about a presenter born with just one arm - because she "scares their children".

I am so boiling mad about this story I can't get my thoughts into good order. Do those unfeeling fuckers have any idea what it would have meant to me to have a presenter like this on TV when I was a kid? To know that my Dad wasn't unique, wasn't a freak?

I don't recall anyone being cruel to me about it, but I do remember being asked, repeatedly, what was wrong with my Dad, and having to explain it to other kids. Weirdly, it was actually easier when I was able to say "He's dead" instead of having to explain the amputation. Kids at that age just don't get it. But they should.

Any child scared by the sight of this woman has been failed by his or her parents. They are to blame for teaching children that a disability is something to be afraid of.

Thanks to vescoiya who alerted me to this story yesterday.

More links (I'll add more as I find them):
Article on Sky News
Article on The First Post
It's shocking how many of the comments on the Daily Mail article are actually supportive of Cerrie and the BBC.
Article by Social Claire on Children & Young People Now.
An interesting discussion on the comments on the Guardian article.
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