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Shriners Hospitals patient with cerebral palsy becomes published writer and poet

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Emily is a published writer and poet, and currently a double major (English and creative writing) student at Johns Hopkins University. She is proud to have been a patient at Shriners Hospitals for Children — Houston for most of her life.

Diagnosed with cerebral palsy, she recalls many positive experiences during her infant and teen years at the hospital. “The people at Shriners [Hospital] are so sweet and have a welcoming environment.” The staff at the Houston Shriners Hospital motivated Emily to keep a positive outlook, which she maintains today. “Their sweet attitude helped me so much,” she added. Douglas Barnes, M.D., is one of the many people that have provided support for her over the years.

Much of Emily's work has been published and she is featured on Breath & Shadow, an online literary journal for disabled people. She likes to stay busy! The 20-year-old is currently writing a novel and compiling an anthology of short stories by authors with disabilities, while also being an involved student at her university.

Emily's personal story of hope, determination and dedication inspires others to "never give up" and reach for their dreams. Because she recognizes the positive impact Shriners Hospitals for Children has had on her life, she has words of encouragement for other people with disabilities who may be facing challenges:

“Stay determined and stay optimistic, I know it is really hard at times, but you would be surprised what a little persistence can do.”

Find below, one of Emily's published poems.



Slimy knotted shoelace,
the eel’s ugly cousin,
you bow tied to the whale corpse,
your mucus drapes around you
like a blanket of allergies.

You greasy noodle,
your corn kernel teeth
clamp onto carrion
as you twist and turn
like an underwater worm.

You scarf of the sea,
sentient small intestine,
spineless serpent,
you slither like a leech
through the blackness.

Tell me, stretched-out slug,
how it feels to give a one-animal hug.