Mom overcomes challenges, hopes to inspire son

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Behind the Gateway Mall Publix deli counter in St. Petersburg, Becca Brown prepares a batch of Southern fried chicken. "It's a lot of work back here.  There's a lot going on all the time."  

She admits her favorite part of the job is interacting with customers. "We get to see how their families are doing, their dogs and cats, crazy stories they have to tell us, so it's nice there's always something to do." 

If you take a closer look, you will notice Becca has a birth defect that is affecting her hands -- but not her ability to work.   

"I think that for all of us, whether your limits are visible to the outward appearance or not, I think your greatest limitation is your own mind," she offered. 

Along with her hands, a portion of Becca’s feet are also missing. "I have an active ankle and then I'm missing the front part of the toes." 

She did not discover the condition was inherited until the birth of her son Marcus.  That's because Becca lived in a Russian orphanage until her adoption at age 7 and never met her biological parents.  She now knows she and Marcus both have a defect at chromosome 10q24, sometimes referred to as SHFM or split-hand, split-foot malformation.  

"We have even the rarer form that affects 20 percent of the 20 percent who have it, which affects both sides identically. That's why he's missing both of his arms from the same spot and we also have the same feet where we're missing the toes," she explained.  

It’s an anatomical abnormality she has overcome. Using prosthetics, she played varsity volleyball in high school.   

“I've played a bunch of sports. I've gone diving, I've flown airplanes, I can drive cars, I pretty much just live a normal life and the only time I'm reminded that I'm not normal is when I first meet someone for the first time."  

She admits there were some tough times. "It wasn't too bad.  You always got people looking at you or teasing you.  You know kids can be cruel because they don't understand."

She underwent multiple surgeries on both hands, "They went in and broke my bone here, and I had two pins and a fixator on top, and I had to do half a turn twice a day with an Allen wrench."    

While she does not know everything her son’s future will hold, she does know one thing.   She says she will raise her son to be like her. "I want to teach him that you shouldn't let your limitations limit you, just because life has way too many options."

She hopes their story will inspire others.

"By me coming out and sharing my story and my dreams for my little son, I just want people to know that in this huge world of diversity, we're all humans.  Just respect each other, love each other, care for each other and dream big for each other.  That's what we should be doing."