My name is Jessica Frew.
I'm an actress and model and podcast host.
And I have Cerebral Palsy.
I cannot walk. I cannot talk. I cannot use my arms or hands.
This is my story.
I was born in Trinitas Hospital in Elizabeth, New Jersey on 8/13/01, with Cerebral Palsy because the doctor made my mother push non-stop for four and a half hours, after she was fully dilated, causing my mother and I to flatline for 10 minutes. They had to resuscitate my mother first, which caused my brain to suffer oxygen deprivation, leading to Cerebral Palsy. My father told me, when my mother flatlined in his arms, he thought he just lost his wife and his unborn baby.
I also remember my mother telling me a story, about how she woke up in the ICU at two o’clock in the morning, looking for ice chips, and saw a woman in her room wearing a blight yellow outfit, who my mother thought was a visiting nun since it was a religious hospital. The woman told my mother she was a good friend of father (uncle) Tom, and said "don't worry about yourself or your little baby girl because everything is going to be okay. You’ll be able to see your baby girl tomorrow."
The next morning, when my mother woke up, she told the nurse "it was so nice for that nun to come into my room last night to visit me". The nurse gave my mother a weird look, and said "you might have been dreaming because we don’t have visiting nuns at this hospital and no visitor's came to your room during the night." My mother let it go, told the nurse "ok, I must have been dreaming", but she knew it wasn’t a dream. Later on that evening, she was able to see her little baby girl for the first time in the NICU and she knew everything would be ok.
The next day, I was transferred to another hospital where I was in a special NICU for 3 weeks.
That was the beginning of my journey and the challenges in life.
I was always left out from a lot of things the kids were doing on the playground when I was little, and I felt the kids always treated me differently than everyone else. But I really didn't fully understand why at that point until I was around 13 or 14, when I began to realize that I was different from everyone else. When you’re a little kid, you may not realize they are treating you differently. As you get older you start to realize it, and it can be really hard to accept. I didn’t really make friends without a disability. It was only me and my best friend who has a disability, all through high school. I speak using a computerized eye gaze device, and it got to a point where I didn't talk to anyone through my computer.
I just used it for school work.
When I was 14, my father passed away from cancer, and that was the lowest point of my life because I was broken and so lost. I didn't care if I lived or died. I didn't want to take a shower. I cut all my hair off. I thought his death was my fault, and that I should have been a better daughter and saved him. I was stuck in my mind with all these negative thoughts. But I told no one and I actually put on this happy face. I remember my dad and I had a big fight the day before he got sick, and he was gone in a week. I didn’t even get the chance to say I was sorry for the mean things I said, because I loved him. That broke me for years. I completely shut down from anyone around me. I completely stopped communicating with my eye gaze computer, even to my best friend, but a few years after my father passed, my mother went to a medium and I was able to talk to my father again. I know he was pain free and very happy where he is now, and that put my mind at peace with everything.
So I started to turn my life around, and became dedicated to helping make a difference in the world for people with disabilities, and make my father proud.
The real reason why I decided to go into the modeling and entertainment industry is because I always felt like I wasn't good enough, at anything, and that people treated me differently than everyone else when I was growing up. Then, after truly finding myself, something happened in my life that made me realize "how I don't know if I'm not good enough at accomplishing anything if I didn't try?"
So, it was then that I decided that I wanted my voice to be heard around the world, to help make a difference in this industry for people with disabilities, and encourage other people with disabilities, to just be themselves and to believe in themselves.
What I had learned from losing my father is that you can come through anything life has in store for you, because it makes you stronger
than you ever imagined before.
Again, I cannot walk. I cannot talk. I cannot use my arms or hands.
Cerebral Palsy may have affected my body, but it hasn't affected my mind, and it hasn't affected my dreams.