help me find my voice

Suf­fer­ing from a fa­cial tu­mour, Jacque wants surgery to help her speak…

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Jacque Ro­driguez is a typ­i­cal teenager; she’s al­ways on so­cial me­dia and loves play­ing her gui­tar.

But the 17-year-old from San Jose, Cal­i­for­nia, was born with lym­phatic mal­for­ma­tions, which means she has huge tu­mours in her face, tongue and chest, and con­se­quently she can’t speak or eat.

Jacque’s con­di­tion was dis­cov­ered when she was in the womb. Not ex­pected to sur­vive, she spent her first eight years in hos­pi­tal and a spe­cial­ist care home.

‘That was a dif­fi­cult time, try­ing to spend enough time with Jac­que­line and also have some nor­malcy for our other chil­dren,’ re­calls her mother, Eve­lyn.

Jacque’s has come to terms with her ap­pear­ance, but is un­der­go­ing treat­ment to re­duce her tu­mours in the hope she can have surgery to re­move the tip of her tongue. This might al­low her to speak.

Un­der the knife

‘I don’t know if I’ll be able to talk af­ter the ther­apy, but my speech ther­a­pist says it might help me to have a smaller tongue so I can move it around more,’ ex­plains Jacque, via her iPad.

Eve­lyn is re­luc­tant for Jacque to have the op­er­a­tion but sup­ports her de­ci­sion.

‘I hate putting my daugh­ter un­der the knife,’ she says. ‘But this is some­thing she’s been want­ing to do and she says she’ll stay strong and get through it.’

Jacque, mean­while, re­mains stoic about the whole thing.

‘I would still lead a happy life with­out surgery,’ she says. ‘Surgery doesn’t make my hap­pi­ness – my car­ing fam­ily and friends do that.’

Mu­sic fan… Jacque wantsto speak

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