It was the early 70s, I was 2 1/2 years of age when my pediatrician told my parents I had Mediterranean Anemia. I grew up in Astoria, a Greek enclave in Queens and that’s how my disorder was called. My parents, immigrants from Cyprus, had limited command of the English language, and the news that their baby daughter had a fatal disease tore them up. My parents did not know they were carriers of the genetic disorder thalassemia. They did know about the disorder because in Cyprus it was known as the “STIGMA” (a mark of disgrace or infamy). In real life, the word took on a more troubling definition as many new parents considered the birth of a child with thalassemia as a family shame.
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Read more articles by Maria HadjidemetriouThe West Side Story: Hudson Yards Downtown Magazine (Under Downtown Mom TM)