KEEPING IT REAL: Marissa’s Story, Part One

Thu 24 Aug 2023

KEEPING IT REAL: Marissa’s Story, Part One*
By Marissa Lelogeais 

Describe what it was like to grow up with cerebral palsy.
I was so eager to start living life that I came into the world at 27 weeks weighing 1.5 pounds. I was diagnosed with CP, low vision and many other cognitive deficits. But I choose to identify myself as a woman with alter abilities.

After seven surgeries, I began walking at age nine. I had to start school  first in a wheelchair then with a walker then with canes and braces. I was acutely aware that, physically, I looked different from other children and that made me angry and scared. I spent more hours than I can count in both physical and occupational therapy.  However, when I was at the lowest points in my life and felt like I wouldn't be ok, I would sing or listen to music.  

What's your relationship with your cerebral palsy?
During my childhood and as a young adult, I hated my body and my CP. Five years ago, I was overweight depressed and hope was a mere flicker.  But I dug down deep to the burning core of me. I joined a weight loss community and have lost and maintained my weight. Then during the COVID lockdown, I joined an online fitness community, which drastically changed my outlook on my body.

When I think of my relationship with my CP now, I’m reminded of a scene from one of my favorite movies where the main character who  is the only woman in the room  is being told what to do by a bunch of men. When she can no longer stand them telling her what to do, she stares right at them and says “Don’t Mess With Me Fellas. This ain’t my first time at the rodeo”. In other words, now my CP doesn’t define me. I’m able to walk into any situation with my head held high and a smile on my face no matter what struggles may await me. 

How did you get into music?
I clearly remember the moment when I knew music was what I wanted to do. I was sitting in a darkened Broadway theater with my parents. As I watched the actors performing on stage,  I felt their energy. They were so HAPPY to be there and they looked like they were having so much fun. At intermission, I looked at my parents, pointed at the stage, and said "I'm going to be a singer." I purchased the cast recording and listened to it on my Discman on repeat. The rest, as they say, is history. 

Stay tuned for part two of our Q&A with Marissa coming soon. 

*Marissa's story is part of KEEPING IT REAL — a series of personal stories that will take you deeper into the lives of people with CP. Each person makes different choices based on what works for them, and we’ll showcase that — highlighting what life is like for them on a daily basis, what they care about, and the ways CP impacts them. 

The KEEPING IT REAL blog is intended solely to raise awareness about the varied human experience with cerebral palsy and shouldn't be read or construed to contain any medical advice or medical endorsement by Cerebral Palsy Alliance Research Foundation. Only you and your doctor know what's best for you. Please consult your doctor for medical advice.

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