Every year, the school Phoebe attends holds a Speech Competition. The kids have to talk for a maximum of 3 minutes on a topic of their choosing. Phoebe decided it should be about her and her birthmarks. The teacher and the kids – all of whom have never asked Phoebe about her marks because she is just Phoebe and ‘whats to say?’ – were apparently blown away by the speech. We have had such a good response from the mums at school too, who have all been told about the speech by their children. Phoebe has been asked if she would stand up and re-tell her speech to the whole school – all 210 kids – and she said Yes!

So here it is, this is what Phoebe had to say about herself. All in her own words. She is 9yrs old.

“Good morning fellow classmates and Mrs Ashman, today I will be talking about ME!….. and what it is like to have birthmarks, a lot of birthmarks!

Here’s the science bit first, so pay attention.
The correct word for my brown birthmarks is Nevus. We all have something called melanocytic cells, which are spread evenly throughout your skin, and when we go into the sun these melanocytic cells produce something called MELANIN, which makes us, go brown. Unless you are my mum and you just go red!

For some reason when I was growing in my mums tummy, these melanocytic cells formed into little spots rather than spread evenly all under my skin. I was born in June 2004 at Chelsea and Westminster hospital and a lovely doctor counted 88 birthmarks on me. That must have taken a while!

The biggest of these birthmarks was a huge mask shaped one on my face. Mum and dad were told this birthmark had to be removed as it was covering my eyes. I had my first operation when I was 1 week old. I had my last operation when I was 6 and a half yrs old. I have had 23 operations all together. I don’t really remember any of my operations because I so little when they happened. But I do remember eating Lemonade Ice Lollies after operations.

Since I was born I have got lots more birthmarks. I think I have over 260 now, I have 40 on my head alone. I have to be very careful when I go out in the sun. I may get sun burnt more easily than you because I don’t have melanin all over my skin. When I lived in New Zealand I was taught to SLIP, SLOP, SLAP and WRAP. That means to SLIP on a t-shirt, SLOP on some sun screen, SLAP on a hat and WRAP on some sun glasses. It’s not just me that needs to remember to do this, you all should take responsibility to prevent getting sun burnt.

Now, lets get a few things straight about birthmarks in general. You cannot catch a birthmark, you cannot rub one off, there not called “brown things”, you can’t have them (they’re mine) and they are especially not CHICKEN POX!!!!!!!!! Mum says we’ll be rich if we got a pound every time somebody asked “has that girl got chicken pox?” and after a while you don’t feel like they’ve misunderstood you just feel annoyed and frustrated because you’ve been asked the same question over and over again.

And while were on the subject, staring is not nice. It is extremely rude to have somebody staring at you while you’re trying to focus on something else. It makes me want to curl into a little ball and disappear. But my mum and dad have taught me to either stare back or smile back at them, though sometimes I find it hard to do. I get that you might want to look at me because I look different – but there is a BIG difference between looking and staring. Remember I am just kid too, how would you like it.

I love my birthmarks. If Harry Potter could wave his magic wand and get rid of them for me, I wouldn’t want him too. I like to stand out from the crowd. I don’t want to look like anyone else, and you shouldn’t either. Be proud of who you are.
My birthmarks make me special and are part of who I am. Phoebe.”

We are so proud of Phoebe, well done. Phoebe has been awarded the Silver CMN Champions Award, Congratulations.