Zika Virus Update: Microcephaly Victim Shares Life with Disease; Says 'I Am A Fulfilled, Happy Woman'

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Feb 04, 2016 04:29 AM EST

Ana Carolina Caceres is a 24-year-old Brazilian journalist born with microcephaly. The congenital brain malformation has links to Zika, but Caceres is proof that there shouldn't be a stigma against the victims of the virus.

Caceres was encouraged to come out and speak up about her condition following the Zika scare. She has been reading comments about babies with microcephaly online and was dismayed by some of the misconceptions, BBC reported.

Caceres said that doctors diagnosed that she will be living in a vegetative state for most of her life. However, she proved them wrong and even managed to finish a journalism course at a university. The 24-year-old also keeps a blog and has written a book about living with microcephaly

"I chose journalism to give a voice to people like me, who do not feel represented," she told BBC. "I can say that today I am a fulfilled, happy woman."

Cleveland Clinic cited that that at least 85 percent of microcephaly patients do end up with a brain disorder, while many will continually have episodes of convulsions. The young journalist would like make it known to the public that babies with microcephaly are not damaged.

Not all end up with degenerative conditions. Microcephaly exists in a spectrum and the causes are different. The cases can be mild to severe, Latinos Health previously reported.

 "Microcephaly is a box of surprises," Caceres said. "You may suffer from serious problems or you may not."

In her case, she admitted to suffering from seizures and breathing problems in her young life. She also underwent five serious medical interventions that included surgery.

Her family, including extend families and other relatives, helped pay for the costs as not all medical procedures and tests are covered by insurance. She managed her condition with medication until she was 12-years-old, Stuff New Zealand reported. However, Caceres claims she doesn't need to medicate these days.

The World Health Organization has declared Zika virus to be a global health emergency, with microcephaly as its main worry. As cases surge, the issue of abortion has become another concern with Brazilian activists pushing for government leaders to amend its strict abortion laws to give mothers the choice, New York Times reported.

However, Caceres made a strong statement about this. "I survived, as do many others with microcephaly. Our mothers did not abort. That is why we exist," she said.

She suggested that efforts should instead be channeled elsewhere, such as giving microcephaly patients better access to treatment and therapies. She also suggested pregnant mothers to get prenatal care and tests as soon as possible, and to seek the advise of a neurologist.

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