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In a world where we don’t celebrate our differences enough, these interviews speak openly with families living with rare medical conditions or disabilities. The aim of the series is to raise awareness and show how living with such conditions affect the lives of those diagnosed and their families.

Today we interview Gemma Barber, a 29 year old young woman with Hip Dysplasia, who has been through more operations than many of us would have in a lifetime, but who loves life, spending time with her friends and always has her faithful sidekick, Charlie the cat, at her side.

This story is close to my heart as my daughter was diagnosed with Hip Dysplasia at 2 and underwent Open reduction surgery at 2.5 years old. Our journey changed me to the core and is the reason I do what I do now. The Charity which Gemma volunteers for, DDH UK, is one of our current partners and was our main source of support throughout my daughter's diagnosis and treatment.

I can't thank Gemma and the team enough for how much they helped us.

Tell us a bit about your family?

My family are the most incredible people in my life, they have humbly supported me throughout my hip dysplasia journey. I couldn't imagine how I would cope without them on this journey, and I feel very lucky to have such a great family who always stands beside me when times get hard. They have always had my best interests at heart, by making incredibly tough decisions to give me the life I deserve.

What is the disability you are living with and how can readers find out more?

I am living with Hip Dysplasia or in other terms DDH (Developmental Dysplasia of the Hip). This condition remains to be rare and I am still unsure as to why I was unlucky enough to get it.

Since my diagnosis back in 1989 I have under-gone several surgeries such as traction, open/closed reduction surgery, a double Ganz Osteotomy and a full left hip replacement. These may sound technical but they are simply just a string of surgeries to give me a ball and socket joint which will do its job for as long as possible.

I highly recommend DDH UK - Because Hips Matter for further information and support for people interested or suffering from DDH.

This website not only provides information but it also runs a Facebook support group for families and individuals living with this condition. This group allows parents and individuals to share their journey and support each other so we all don't feel quite so alone. It also gives opportunities to ask questions or ask for advice.

As an administrator on the page, we like to think we make sure all questions are answered and advice is given for all situations and circumstances people find themselves in. This website is also linked to DDH UK which is a charity that supports all people with Hip Dysplasia by sending children and young people cards full of kindness either before their admission to hospital or on their recovery at home.

Growing up with such a rare condition, I often felt completely alone and didn't think there was a community of Hip Dysplasia sufferer's, but now I'm part of this large community I can see how much of a difference it makes in people's lives.

What is your story?

I cope with my hip dysplasia by sharing my life with the condition in my new and upcoming book and by fundraising for DDH UK to support others living with the condition. I am proud talking about Hip Dysplasia because there's not enough awareness on this condition.

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The absolute love of my life is my cat, Charlie, to whom I've been a mummy since last September, I rescued him from the local RSPCA and since then he's settled into our lives beautifully. He's the sweetest ball of fluff, he's got a gorgeous nature and hasn't got a bad bone in him. If I'm honest I couldn't imagine my life without him, he brings us so much love and stays by my side when I have to rest.

My favourite pastimes are spending quality time with my family such as cinema trips, meals out, visiting country houses and even just nights in with a good movie (and obviously my gorgeous cat, Charlie).

I also enjoy cross stitching as it keeps me busy and it challenges me depending on the patterns. It has also taught me how to really concentrate and helps my frame of mind when times get tough and reminds me to never give up, even throughout all the challenges that I face in my personal life.

Hip Dysplasia has affected my confidence in myself because of the surgeries my body has endured over the years. I became very inactive which led to some weight gain and that's when it started to affect my body image. I have had to accept I'm a big girl which makes me think it may be difficult when it comes to dating in the future. A lot of my friends are happily engaged, married and have a family. I worry most men will run a mile when I explain to them I have hip dysplasia which will knock my confidence even further.

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I keep myself positive but focussing on my hopes for the future, which are:

  • To provide Healthcare workers with a deeper knowledge of Hip Dysplasia.
  • To have my new book published and in every book shop across the country by raising awareness of this condition.
  • To continue supporting families and individuals with this condition across the country.
  • To raise £10,000 for DDHUK

About Chance Coaching CIC

Chance Coaching is a not-for-profit organisation which provides 1-2-1 life coaching and emotional support to parents going through challenges. The profits and funding go towards helping families with children with additional needs and disabilities. For more information on what we do and how we help click here or to book your FREE, no-obligation, Discovery Session, click here.

Jenni Donato

Jenni now works as a freelance life and mindset coach, helping women to overcome challenges, create calm and happy homes and live the life they want.