My name is Emma Brockway. I am currently a sophomore at Texas State University, but my story begins about eighteen years prior to that. I was born in China with a cleft lip and cleft palate. I was adopted at age one and brought to Dallas, TX. A few years later, my parents and I moved to Houston, TX. I lived in Houston for the majority of my life, until college.
Throughout my life, I endured about nine surgeries. When I was a baby, I had my first surgery: the cleft palate repair. I don’t remember it since it was so long ago, but from pictures, it seems like I handled it fairly well for a baby. The surgery with the most complexities and hardest recovery was my jaw surgery. I had jaw surgery in 11th grade and it was one of the hardest things I’ve ever gone through. Between only being able to eat clear liquids for five days, to having my mouth rubber banded shut, to the limitations on any physical activity, it was a rough recovery process. Looking back, I could not be happier about the surgery. The results were phenomenal. I had braces for seven years and a retainer for a total of about two years. For nine years of my life, I had some form of metal in my mouth. I began the orthodontia process around age nine, and was not rid of my metal retainer until halfway through my freshman year of college.
Through high school, I stayed extremely involved in extracurricular activities. I joined my school orchestra in sixth grade and stayed in it until my high school graduation. I golfed on my school’s golf team for five years (8th-12th grades). I joined various clubs at my high school and thoroughly enjoyed my time there. I began attending Texas State University in the fall of 2014. I am an English major with the goal of attending law school after I graduate from Texas State. Upon arriving at Texas State, I immediately got involved with different organizations; many of which I am still a member today. I genuinely love my school and could not be happier at another university.
I “graduated” from Shriners Hospital (officially) a few months ago. I have stayed connected within the Cleft Palate community by running an Instagram account: @cleftcommunity. A few years ago, a girl who is a few years younger than me asked me to help her manage her Instagram account called “@cleftlipandpalate.” We both ran the account for some time, but she eventually got too busy with her studies. I took over the account, then created a new one: @cleftcommunity. @Cleftcommunity is an Instagram account aimed at uniting the people with cleft lips and cleft palates. The followers come from various areas. I have personally had the pleasure of talking with a few of them via third party messaging aps, email, and text. The Instagram account allows people to talk about their personal experiences with certain surgeries and the struggles of having a cleft palate and/or cleft lip. I absolutely love managing this account because it shows me a multitude of perspectives that I personally have not experiences. It also provides a tool for others to meet people who have similar situations and who have gone through similar experiences; both good and bad. Another way I am involved with the various people who have cleft lips and cleft palates is that I am the Houston Shriners Patient Ambassador. I will be attending the Shriners Open this fall, in Las Vegas, to represent my hospital. I love the staff at Shriners and everything they have done for me. I am always open to hearing about different people’s stories and if interested, I am more than willing to share my own.