My name is Anne and I have a giant CMN that covers my back and multiple smaller moles mainly on my legs. The main CMN was almost black when I was born. It gradually lightened over the years and is now, at age 60, light brown. There was very little information available for my parents when I was born other than to keep me out of the sun. For about the first 35 years of my life I thought I was the only person who had this type of birthmark.
I have many happy memories from my early childhood. My parents said they didn’t feel my birthmark held me back; they said wherever they took me I would make friends. I had two sisters and lots of friends to play with in our local area and, our home was full of fun and laughter. However, I did experience some name calling which could be a bit embarrassing and annoying. Luckily, I seemed to realise from quite a young age that the people who made nasty comments usually didn’t have such a good life as me and were saying these things to make themselves feel better and any persistent offenders would have to deal with my older sister!
My teenage years were a bit more challenging as it can be for many teens. I was a bit self-conscious about my CMN and hated PE because I had to wear shorts.I wanted to look like everyone else and not to have this visible difference. My mother would say to me that I was lucky and that lots of people had a lot of worse things in their life to contend with. It took me quite a while to realise how true this was.Even though these years were more challenging I mainly enjoyed school and was lucky to have a very supportive best friend.
I did quite well at school and got a good job in an Energy firm when I left. I studied for a degree part time in the evenings while working full time and was promoted at work when I graduated. I met some interesting folk at University and made a close lifelong friendship.
I haven’t had any treatments on my CMN. I was referred to a surgeon when I was 15 who told me that if they tried to cut my main CMN out there would not be a lot of me left. That actually helped me a bit to accept how I looked.
I met my husband Peter when I was 17 and we celebrated our ruby wedding last year. I have a lovely daughter and handsome grandson and I am very proud of them.
When I discovered in my 30s that there were other people with this condition this was mind blowing for me. I didn’t even know that this condition had a name! When Jodi set up Caring Matters Now support group, I was the only adult with CMN that was involved with the group. I would speak to some of the parents and hope that I was able to give a bit of reassurance that you can live a really fulfilling life with CMN.
We moved to Shetland 14 years ago and enjoy being part of this super community. I haven’t been so involved in the group in recent years as Shetland is pretty remote from the UK mainland. I have however kept up to date with what is happening via the website. It was really exciting for me to discover that the annual conference was going online this year and I was able to join in. I think it’s really amazing what the charity has managed to achieve over the past few years. It makes me so happy to see young folk with CMN who are so confident, and I am delighted that the adult group has so many members now.
At 60 years of age I can reflect back on my life and see that having CMN has enriched my life. It’s important to me that everyone in society is valued for who they are and is given every opportunity to thrive.