WHAT’S YOUR STORY: Willard’s story: No one’s perfect

Zach Mills

No one’s perfect.

That’s one of Megan Willard’s favorite lines. It’s a phrase she hopes to help the rest of the world understand and embrace.

In fact, she’s so serious about those three words that she’s chosen to dedicate her entire life and career to helping people learn to cope with that truth — no one’s perfect.

The Bardstown sophomore is studying biology and hopes to become a genetic counselor one day. This career will involve counseling couples who have a family history of genetic disorders and are having or considering having children.

Willard’s career might leave her attempting to explain to young couples, excited about having children, the likelihood of their children being born with birth defects.

“You never know, because sometimes people’s genes just are not compatible,” Willard said. “It’s almost amazing how many successful births there are when you understand how many things actually have to happen to go right.”

Willard’s cousin Jenny has recently sought the help of a genetic counselor.

“My cousin got pregnant recently, and they found out that the baby’s intestines were actually growing where [the baby’s] heart should be growing,” she said.

A doctor advised Willard’s cousin to see a genetic counselor. It turned out that the birth defect wasn’t a genetic disorder, but it is what Willard described as “just a freak mutation.”

“They don’t think it will survive,” Willard said. “It’s a really sad situation to her, but she’s doing the best she can with it.”

Willard said the news was very difficult for her cousin to handle.

“It’s kind of strange that all of this happened,” Willard said. “She was so excited. When she found out, she was devastated. She said ‘I can’t just not try it, ’cause then I’ll wonder for the rest of my life.’ She said it’s not fair to not give it a chance.

“Abortion was brought up, but she doesn’t want to abort,” Willard said.

Despite the less than perfect situation and the less than perfectly healthy baby growing inside Willard’s cousin, Willard said her cousin has a very optimistic attitude. She even quoted her cousin as saying, “The little time I do get to spend with the baby — if any at all — that’s a miracle.”

Willard is inspired by her cousin’s determination and love for her unborn child, and she also shares in her grief.

“I can’t imagine being her,” Willard said. “She’s carrying a baby inside of her that she doesn’t even know…is gonna live.”

Although the unfortunate news about her cousin’s baby has been difficult for family and friends, it has helped solidify Willard’s desire to become a genetic counselor.

“Life’s too short to be sad and not be happy, so I’ll help the best way I know how,” she said.

Willard knows she will be called into many tough situations as a genetic counselor, situations like her cousin’s, but her motivation is to give hope to others and do a lot of good.

A very painful subject for Willard is a statistic she recently heard a doctor give on television. According to the doctor, there is currently a 90 percent tendency for people to abort babies with Down Syndrome.

“I think people tend to give up really easy,” Willard said. “I think that people should give situations like that their best shot. With abortion, it’s like giving up. I don’t think that should be the case as far as children are concerned.”

As a genetic counselor, Willard wants to show people how to look at imperfections and see beautiful potential. She wants to show people how to cope with imperfection and celebrate it.

“I don’t want people to give up on the things that they care about,” she said. “Childbirth is the most important thing two people can do together. People want their perfect lives, and that’s fictitious. Sometimes the imperfections are the best part.”

Each week, Zach picks a random person from the student directory and calls them to ask, “What’s Your Story?” His series runs every Tuesday. Zach can be reached at [email protected]