After the success of our Sydney mini-conference in May, it was wonderful to be given the opportunity to be part of a similar event in Melbourne on 6 July.
My highlight of the day was hearing Chelsea Cheadle speak. Chelsea has microtia and atresia and had an ear reconstruction performed 10 years ago when she was 5 years old.
To watch a 15 year old take to the stage with such presence was impressive. Chelsea’s message was that her ear surgery enabled her to grow up without fear of being judged because of her facial difference. She said that she was actually proud to be different and that she wouldn’t change her lot in life because it has made her who she is (and she is pretty great!).
I had an amazing day meeting so many families living with microtia and atresia, and explaining recent advances in customised 3D printed ear reconstructions. One of the most difficult issues parents face when their children are born with this rare condition is how to get information. And it can be even more challenging when the information that is provided by different practitioners and social media is conflicting. Meeting so many families affected by this unique problem motivates me to ensure there is open access to the latest information in the treatment of microtia and atresia.
Her wonderful mum, Simone Cheadle, organised the meeting for microtia families living in Melbourne. Over the past 10 years she has been relentless in the pursuit of more information and better outcomes for other Australian families affected by microtia and atresia. It was a pleasure to play a small part in such a successful day, along with Trudie Dowell from Hear and Say. I enjoyed being part of the wonderful exchange that also happens when families are able to talk to each other and share information.