Hello, I’m Dan. I was born with a nevus located on my trunk and lower back, with a number of smaller satellites all over the rest of my body. My CMN continues to grow, lighten, darken, and change shape as I get older.

Over the past few months, I’ve had the pleasure of becoming more involved in the charity’s events and met a plethora of people who either share my condition or have family with CMN – those older than me, those younger than me, and of course, those who are the same age as me. These experiences have been eye-opening for me, as I’ve suddenly come to realise that there are so many others just like me – people who’ve experienced first-hand what it’s like to live with CMN.

In my younger years, I struggled to grapple with my differences from my peers. I often skipped my PE lessons out of fear of the changing rooms, and the nasty comments I frequently faced due to something completely out of my control, and this happened all the way from reception until the end of my time in primary school. I felt – to a degree – ashamed of looking different from those around me. There were times when I felt overwhelmed by some of the comments I faced, but my family, friends and teachers provided a solid support system and I’m very thankful for the support I continue to receive from them.

As I grew older, I started to see my CMN as a unique and interesting aspect of who I am. A turning point came when I participated in a charity event in May of 2022, and met many others with CMN and heard their stories. This experience helped me build self-confidence and allowed me to embrace my condition as a part of my identity. Today, I am pursuing a career in the medical field, and my CMN has opened countless opportunities for learning and personal growth. I’m finally realising what a blessing in disguise my CMN has been. It serves as an excellent conversation starter for those interested and helps me filter between those who I want to surround myself with, and those who I don’t. I’ve also come to learn that as you get older and more informed about the condition, the easier it is to explain to people and the easier it is as a result for them to understand.

One thing I would have liked to have heard when I was younger is that your own self-perception is one of the most important things for cultivating proper mental health. As I’ve grown more confident, I’ve become more content with my condition, and I’ve begun to really embrace it as something unique and interesting about me though not only that – my involvement with the charity has been equally transformative. By participating in events and the support groups available, I’ve not only deepened my understanding of CMN but also built a network of individuals and families who have shared similar experiences. This sense of community has played a crucial role in shaping my outlook on life over the past year and I feel very fortunate as a result.

All in all, living with CMN has certainly presented its share of challenges, but it has also shaped me into the person I am today. I’ve learned to embrace my uniqueness, and my experiences have led me to a fulfilling path of personal growth. For anyone reading this who might be struggling with their own CMN journey, remember that positive perception is vital, and with the right support and mindset, you can turn your challenges into opportunities for growth and self-development.