Let’s cut to the chase here: I’m wildly biased about the recent My Story article, “Inclusion Take Center Stage” published in the recent Allergic Living Magazine Winter issue. My son Cyrus wrote this piece and I’m shamelessly proud. What leaves a lump in my throat is that he laid it all out and allowed himself to be honest. In that honesty, vunerablity is found. At the age of sixteen, I never could have stepped forward to speak up like Cyrus had in this article. As a parent, I had always thought that he just didn’t care very much about exclusion and that he was always just going with the flow as a team member. Boy, was I wrong. Over the last few months, I’ve watched him discover his voice in a life changing way. I always feared that he had to deal with the stigma of being “that allergic kid or the peanut boy”, etc. I tried to keep him away from being the local food allergy poster boy. What I just learned from Cyrus this last week is that, in fact, he is that allergic kid along with being that kid with the dry humor who likes to bake and ski. His allergies don’t define his personality, but they are part of who he is and speaking up is the honest thing to do! The stigmas are only going to last if we give them power and allow them to have meaning. Speaking up, saves lives and can make a difference. For years, my mantra have been, “be who you are”, embrace the good, the bad and the ugly-this is who you are.
He was listening. It’s important to note that by not speaking up, others won’t understand the impact of their actions. It’s almost unfair to these those around us. Often, they believe they are doing the right thing and if our children don’t speak up then resolution remains out of reach. Cyrus reminded me very much of Sloane Miller, food allergy coach, blogger and author of, “Allergic Girl, Adventures in Living Well with Food Allergies”, who is an adult living a vibrant life with food allergies in New York City. When I first heard her speak, I was in awe of her matter of fact, this-is-who-I-am attitude. She was so smooth about how she talks to friends and handles social/business situations that she made food allergies look normal. I had hoped and prayed immediately that my son would grow up to be like Sloane. She is such a powerful coach, that my local support group hosted a live Skype lecture with her as she spoke to both parents and teens about managing their allergies. I truly believe Cyrus was listening to Sloane that night and embraced her positive attitude. Thanks Sloane!!!
Challenge to us. If you read the article, please post if you are taking the challenge or have been doing it all along!
Thank you Allergic Living for providing teens in our community a place to share “their story” in your magazine. I also thank you for the wonderful article about Juliet Larsen and how as a teen model she speaks up and handles her food allergies while on and off the runway! These articles empower our youth to feel normal and to speak up and advocate for their health and well being.