Monday, March 14, 2016

What’s wrong with her face?

Charlie Crenshaw, who is 6 months old, has a large vascular birthmark, under her right eye, covering her cheek. Tired of hearing strangers comment on it, her mom, Katie Crenshaw, took to her blog, Twelve & Six.

“While I don’t mind educating curious minds, I don’t need your opinion on how it its [sic] progress or the affect it may have on her,” Katie, 29, wrote on January 12. “It’s a part of her unique beauty.”...

Charlie’s “birthmark,” which is about 5cm x 6cm large, is a capillary hemangioma. The benign tumor is made of an abnormal overgrowth of tiny blood vessels. The majority of capillary hemangiomas do not require treatment and are simply monitored for the development of vision problems, according to the American Association for Pediatric Opthalmology and Strabismus. The tumor is sometimes referred to as a “strawberry.”

The toddler does not have vision problems and sees a pediatric dermatologist who specializes in vascular anomalies and a pediatric ophthalmologist every 1 to 2 months, Katie wrote on March 7, in an updated FAQ in response to the viral media attention.

Since she was six weeks old, Charlie has taken a beta-blocker that’s been approved to treat hemangiomas by suppressing growth and initiating shrinking and fading. According to her mother, she doesn’t have any pain and doesn’t even know the mark is there.

In her original post, Katie, who lives with her family in the metro Atlanta area, asked supporters to, rather than pray the mark will disappear, pray that her daughter “grows into a confident girl who loves herself no matter what she looks like.”

“She doesn’t have a ‘good side’ that we choose for family pictures,” the mother-of-two wrote. “I don’t retouch her hemangioma in photos. Her entire face is my sweet Charlie, and it doesn’t matter what it looks like.”  (pictures)

My infant daughter, Charlie Kate has a large “birthmark” on her face called a capillary hemangioma. To be specific, it’s about 5cm x 6cm. It is usually the first thing people notice about her. I know, because it’s usually the first thing that people comment on.
I try, daily, to remind myself that most humans are kind and well intentioned. I don’t get angry about brief stares. I understand that it’s human nature to do a double take when you see something about someone that makes them different...

For us, any other complication were eliminated and Charlie’s hemangioma was deemed cosmetic. She is observed by her specialists to make sure it doesn’t ever obstruct her vision and she takes a daily medication to keep it from growing any larger. Most hemangiomas involute or disappear eventually.

I’ve gotten a variety of remarks from family, friends, and strangers. I’ve done some thinking and I want to share our perspective as parents.

We don’t need to talk about it every time you look at her. We see past the color of her face. Charlie is Charlie and it’s part of who she is. It doesn’t need to be constantly commented on, critiqued, or questioned. While I don’t mind educating curious minds, I don’t need your opinion on how it its progress or the affect it may have on her. It’s a part of her unique beauty. It may never disappear, and guess what? It doesn’t have to. I would much rather chat about her latest milestone achievement, her amazing smile, or how gorgeous her eyes are...

She isn’t in pain or ill. She simply has an unusual quality about her appearance. The most common sentiments are “I’m praying that it goes away.” Or “Bless her poor little heart.” I’m constantly being asked “When will that go away?” I’ve even heard things as harsh as “turn her to her good side” or “Too bad, she’s so pretty otherwise”.

I encourage you to, instead of praying it will disappear, pray that she grows into a confident girl who loves herself no matter what she looks like. Pray that constant comments and opinions from friends, family and strangers will end before she’s old enough to overhear them. Pray that she will be a strong person in the in an age where we are bullied for any number of reasons...
Just consider that. Consider that you are offering to pray away one of my daughter’s beautiful features that makes her who she is.

Hold the pity. She’s a healthy baby girl and we are blessed. Her hemangioma is just as insignificant to who she is as a freckle on her arm. You don’t need to mention it, and you don’t need to wish it away.   (picture)


1 comment:

  1. A woman from North Carolina who was born with a rare condition that has caused birthmarks to cover 70 percent of her body says she is proud to be different even after enduring years of bullying and staring from her peers.

    The Mirror reported that 19-year-old Ciera Swaringen, of Richfield, North Carolina— northeast of Charlotte— was born with giant congenital melanocytic nevus. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the condition is usually marked by abnormally dark, noncancerous skin patches made of melanocytes, or pigment-producing cells. It occurs in an estimated 1 in 20,000 newborns worldwide, and affected individuals often cope with emotional and behavior problems due to the anxiety and stress that the nevus may have on their appearance.

    The condition has led to moles stretching from Swaringen’s head to her toes, and her largest mark goes from her lower thighs to her navel.

    But Swaringen told The Mirror that despite the jeers from her classmates— some who have called her a “spotty dog” or tell her she looks “dirty”— she has maintained body confidence.

    “Over time, I’ve learnt to brush off negative comments and remember that most people stare and say cruel things because they’re not used to seeing someone with my condition,” Swaringen, who recently graduated from high school, told The Mirror.

    Swaringen said her birthmarks are still multiplying and will continue to do so throughout her life, and that she has to be especially careful in the sun as she is at a greater risk of skin cancer.

    The young woman said she has remained optimistic due to her community of Richfield, which has a population of about 600, according to the 2010 census, the most recent data available, as well as because of the support she has received from her family.

    "I remember when I started school my mom told me that my birthmarks were angel kisses— and that really stuck with me,” she told the news website, “and my dad is the first person to stand up to defend me if anyone says anything horrible to me.”

    Swaringen said as she ages, she hopes to leave those insecurities of high school behind. Today, she’s “proud to be different.”

    “At the end of the day, we all have something about us that's unusual, whether it's on the inside or the outside,” she said. “Everyone is born to look different, and [we] should all feel beautiful in our own skin."