By LOIS KINDLE
Debora Porath never imagined the life she’s had for more than two decades, ever since her daughter, Liana, was born with cerebral palsy. At the time, she was in an unhealthy, abusive relationship and had to sever ties with her only child’s father.
But the thought of not raising Liana never occurred to her, even after Porath brought her home, and the child began having seizures.
Over the years since, Porath, now 60, has dedicated herself to Liana’s needs, which involves total, 24-hour care. This includes all of her daughter’s daily activities – eating, dressing, bathing, changing diapers and more; performing floor exercises with her to prevent further muscle contracture; keeping her body temperature regulated; providing an adaptive home and equipment; and constant companionship. The pair has to sleep together now due to Liana’s seizure disorder.
Porath, an independent sales director for Mary Kay, sets her work day around Liana and her schedule and takes her daughter with her to team meetings.
“She goes everywhere with me, including church, markets and the annual Dallas Trade show,” said the Riverview resident. “I rarely allow anyone else to care for her.”
Some might look at Porath’s circumstances and say she doesn’t have much of a life, but the Riverview resident would strongly disagree.
“Liana is an amazing human being, a gift from God,” she said. “She’s smart, sensitive, understands everything and has a funny personality. We’re best friends. I’m proud to be her mother.”
While Porath’s role as a single mom has been daunting at times, she feels her life is rich and fulfilling – thanks to God, family and her 27-year Mary Kay career.
“Mary Kay is the tool that enabled me to get out of a bad relationship and be freed from debt, so I could take care of Liana,” she said. “My involvement keeps me fulfilled and happy, and my customers and consultants have become extended family.”
Cerebral palsy is a complex, lifelong primary movement and muscle tone disorder caused by an early brain injury or disturbance in neurological development. Liana has the most common type, spastic cerebral palsy, which, in her case, affects all four limbs and the muscles of the trunk, face and mouth. She has abnormal muscle tone, stiff muscles and minimal motor control.
While there is no known cure, Liana makes small improvements all the time, Porath said. For example, she recently learned to blow a kiss.
“Liana is my forever friend,” Porath said. “God’s love is manifested to me through her. I can’t imagine life without her.”