Sophomore embraces rare condition


By Anna Indelli, online A&E editor
When sophomore Theresa Schafer went to Disney World with her family for her 10th birthday, an inevitable question was brought up to her mother Kathleen Schafer.
“An older gentlemen behind us in line asked how old she was,” Kathleen said. When I told him her age, he got choked up and asked if she was okay because he thought she was ill.”
She wasn’t ill, just small for her age because Theresa was diagnosed with a chromosome disorder known as Turner Syndrome when she was 13 months old. This appears solely in women, and those affected are partially or totally missing an X chromosome. It has effects on girls’ development, and can lead to heart problems or problems in the immune system.
While she wasn’t diagnosed right away, Kathleen says she always had a feeling that there was something different about Theresa, as she wasn’t growing as much as she should.
“Raising a child is an unknown for all parents,” Kathleen said. “But when you throw in something more challenging, there’s always a concern.”
This prompted Kathleen to take Theresa to the doctor, hoping they could shed some light on the situation. There were many other conditions Theresa could’ve had, most of which could’ve been life threatening. After nearly six months, the conclusion was made about Theresa’s condition.
“We finally found out what I had after going to a genealogist,” Theresa said. “She ran tests to figure out what was wrong.”
“It was nice to have an answer,” Kathleen said. “When we learned what it was, I knew we could deal with whatever came with it.”
Because Turner Syndrome isn’t always noticeable, it wasn’t something Theresa’s sister, junior Mary Schafer, thought about right away.
“I started noticing when people would comment on her size or how little she was,” Mary said. “I realized she wasn’t growing as quickly as I had.”
Theresa said learning what it was was a relief.
“I was actually kind of happy [when my parents told me],” Theresa said. “It made me feel better about being short because there was a reason, and it was something special about me.”
Theresa says her condition has really shaped her.
“It’s given me good experiences, and it’s made the relationships I’ve forged seem more real… It can definitely be a pain, but I’ve never wished for it to go away.”
However, Theresa doesn’t allow it to run her life, something her good friend sophomore Zoe Lucas can attest to.
“Theresa has a very large personality,” Lucas said. “She’s very vivacious and friendly and loud.”
Lucas recalls sleepovers the girl’s used to have, and describes them as “midnight madness”, the pair often joking and playing games late into the night.
Theresa is a member of the PMK, as well as being involved in theater, playing a schoolgirl in this year’s production of “School of Rock”.  
Overall, Theresa’s friends and family agree that the condition has had a positive impact on their lives.
“I think it’s made her a stronger person and a better person,” Mary said. “People like to focus on the limitations and everything with her height, but she does a good job of proving people wrong and showing she can do anything she puts her mind to.”