Times of India
08 May, 2010
Sheila Radziewicz, who was born without arms and knee caps, is ready to kick ass for a black belt
Calling 32–year–old Sheila Radziewicz a courageous woman would be an understatement. Born without arms and kneecaps, she has overpowered her handicap and is all set to achieve a black belt in tae kwon do, reports Fox News. This comes from a person who was told by doctors that she wasn’t even supposed to live.
According to The Salem News, Sheila – who also has feet that were rotated inward at birth – is kicking her way to becoming a martial arts guru.
After several surgeries, the brown belt pro, who no longer has to wear metal braces that reached the top of her thigh, has beaten the odds and will compete for the impressive title next month.
“I grew up with the phrase ‘the impossible only takes a little longer’,” Radziewicz said of her life growing up with thrombocytopenia–absent radius, or TAR syndrome, in a family that fostered self–sufficiency. “They never let me say I couldn’t… they told me that I could.”
She began training with her instructor, Bruce McCorry in Peabody, Massachusetts, three years ago. The rest was history.
She realised that miracles really do happen and that she could do things that others without disabilities can do. “She is a very motivating person for myself,” said McCorry, reports the Daily Mail . “There are no excuses, in other words. She can teach us all a lesson.” In fact, Radziewicz has become such an expert at tae kwon do that she has begun to teach children’s beginner classes at the studio that changed her life and gave her the confidence to believe in herself.
What is Tar Syndrome?
TAR Syndrome, according to Wikipedia, is a rare genetic disorder which is characterised by the absence of the radius bone in the forearm, and a dramatically reduced platelet count.
Symptoms of thrombocytopenia, or a lowered platelet count, leads to bruising and potentially life–threatening haemorrhage. Other common links between people with TAR seem to include heart problems, kidney problems, knee joint problems and frequently lactose intolerance.
TAR was first identified in 1956 and genetic research is underway. A 2007 research article identified a region of chromosome 1, 1q21.1, containing 11 genes (including HFE2, LIX1L, PIAS3, ANKRD35, ITGA10, RBM8A, PEX11B, POLR3GL, TXNIP, and GNRR2), that is mutated in thirty of thirty patients with TAR. This mutation was also found in 32% of unaffected family members, so there are likely other genetic components of the syndrome besides this one. Hence when a child has the condition, any future siblings are likely to have a 25% chance of also having it.