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In response to Turner syndrome, overcoming obstacles

Renee Bailey
Renee Bailey

When Renee Bailey was 10 years old her mother, a registered nurse, thought she was a picky eater. “My mom saw me in a play, I think it was Yankee Doodle Dandy, and I was way shorter than the other kids,” recalls Bailey, now 36. “We went to an endocrinologist who pretty much gave us a diagnosis right away” of Turner syndrome. In addition to being smaller than her classmates at Tucson Hebrew Academy, her elbow was angled differently and she had reduced ovarian function.

“I really didn’t understand exactly what that meant and mom kept some things from me till later on,” Bailey told the AJP. Her mother, Candace Reichard, took her to Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore every six months for check-ups. Turner syndrome is a chromosomal condition that afflicts one in 2,500 females, leaving them with a missing or incomplete X chromosome instead of the usual pair at birth.

How the syndrome most affected Bailey “was in my learning circumstances. I couldn’t tell left from right,” she says. “I couldn’t tell time. I was having difficulty with math, especially with geometry and spatial relationships by the time I got to St. Gregory’s” College Preparatory School. Her mother wanted to hire a tutor.

“I got teary-eyed. I felt all alone,” notes Bailey, adding that at the time her mother said, “Nobody’s going to put on your gravestone that you failed geometry. She was such an incredible support for me. I always remembered that.”

Bailey’s mother also promoted a Jewish education for her. “She felt she had missed out on that part of her life,” says Bailey, who became a Bat Mitzvah at Congregation Anshei Israel. As for academics, she holds two bachelor’s degrees, one in biochemistry and one in English, from the University of Arizona. Following 15 years in clinical research, mainly in oncology studies, Bailey obtained a master’s degree in performance psychology at National University’s San Diego campus.

In March 2013 she wrote “My X-Factor,” an ebook to help families affected by Turner syndrome “understand what the diagnosis really means and find ways to overcome the obstacles it presents.”

“I want to help people get in the game of balancing their lives,” she says, adding that living in Tucson and San Diego with her husband, Sven Bailey, she can operate her online business from both homes. “It’s all about building your own job security,” she says, and if she needed to forge a life plan for herself, “many others could be in a similar situation. My coaching business is ramping up now.”

Bailey published “Self Dependent,” which contains advice from people leading successful lives doing what they love, in August. “You have to run your own race,” she says. “As long as you’re moving in a forward direction, whether it’s one step or one mile, that’s progress.”

Renee Bailey will sign books on Sunday, Feb. 2 at 1 p.m. at Mostly Books, 6208 E. Speedway Blvd.