Living Through Words: Dealing with Dwarfism and Breast Cancer

Adjunct faculty member at Adrian College featured in best-seller and on Katie Couric Show

ADRIAN, Mich. - Adrian College adjunct faculty member, Cristina Trapani-Scott, along with her daughter, have been mentioned in a new book by National Book Award-winning author, Andrew Solomon. The book, Far From the Tree: Parents, Children, and the Search for Identity, is about families who cope with individuality in their family structure and in their children.

Trapani-Scott and her daughter, Kiki Peck, have been featured in a chapter about dwarfism. Scott’s daughter was born with a rare form of dwarfism called Kniest Syndrome.

Peck’s dwarfism gives her arthritis-like symptoms and causes difficulty with range of motion and walking. Peck was born without type II collagen in her cartilage, making her bones thinner and weaker than average and sometimes causing them to bend.

The book also touches on a key component of Trapani-Scott’s life—her poetry. Trapani-Scott teaches writing at the College, and uses her poetry to help cope with life’s challenges. One of her poems, “Climbing a Mountain on Horseback in July,” is excerpted in Solomon’s book.

The poem was inspired by a trail ride in Colorado when Peck was seven or eight. “Her legs barely reached past the saddle, but she loved the ride. I think I was more terrified than she was about her riding a big horse,” Trapani-Scott says.

Solomon’s book opened the door for more awareness when Trapani-Scott received a call to appear on the Katie Couric Show. She and her daughter were featured on January 8, 2013 in a segment called “Raising a Kid Different Than You.” During the taping, Couric spoke with Trapani-Scott and Peck about their experiences outlined in Solomon’s book, as well as the touching story of how Peck shaved her head when her mother had cancer so she wouldn’t be bald alone during her chemotherapy.

Peck has “channeled the negative attention she gets, people staring and things like that, into a real positive. She wants to be a singer,” Trapani-Scott says. “She figures if people are going to stare at her, then she is going to give them more of a reason than just having Kniest syndrome and that really comes through in how inspirational she is.”

Portions of the Katie Couric Show segment can be viewed online by visiting www.katiecouric.com.

To learn more about Andrew Solomon’s book, Far From the Tree, visit www.farfromthetree.com.