By Liana Jacob
THIS WOMAN became a makeup artist after a TUMOUR began TAKING OVER HER FACE at just TWO-YEARS-OLD – and doctors won’t remove it in case they make it WORSE.
In 1995, Rhonda Manring (27) from Virginia, USA, was diagnosed with neurofibromatosis, a genetic condition that causes benign tumours to grow along the nerves, after her sister, Rebecca, noticed it and pointed it out to their mum.
There wasn’t much doctors could do about it as they thought surgery would do more harm than good, due to her only being two and a half years old at the time.
Walking out among the public has often been a negative experience for her, with parents pulling their children away from her to avoid them ‘catching’ her condition. But despite her negative experiences and being constantly stared at by strangers, Rhonda has remained positive in her attitude and was always considered ‘bubbly’ by nature.
As she grew older, she developed a love of makeup, which motivated her to upload tutorials on Facebook and Instagram where she has amassed over an impressive 9,000 followers. Her social media community has helped her embrace her condition.
She now wants to raise awareness of neurofibromatosis through her love of makeup to show that it is not a contagious condition and that everyone is beautiful despite society’s perception of beauty.
“My older sister noticed my neurofibromatosis and pointed it out to our mother. She immediately took me to the doctors,” Rhonda said.
“When I was diagnosed there wasn’t much they could do that would help; it would have done more harm than good doing surgery back then.
“I went through a lot when I was little; from breaking my legs a total of five times each and wearing a halo to try and make my right leg grow.
“I kept to myself throughout my years in school; I had a few good friends who are still by my side today and have loved and supported me.
“I’ve always been a bubbly, out-going person who loves life. The reaction from others would be mainly staring. It still happens to this day or parents pull their kids away as if they can catch it.
“I’m a makeup enthusiast; I love being able to go into my makeup room and just create different looks.”
Neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1) is a condition you are born with and is the more common type. In most cases, the skin is affected which causes symptoms like; pale, coffee-coloured patches (café au lait spots), soft, non-cancerous tumours on or under the skin, clusters of freckles in unusual places (such as the groin, armpits and under the breast) and problems with the bones, eyes and nervous system.
NF1 is caused by a faulty gene, which leads to uncontrolled growth (tumours) developing in the nervous system. In half of all NF1 cases, the faulty gene is passed on from a parent to their child. Only one parent needs to have the faulty gene for their child to be at risk of developing the condition.
There is currently no cure for NF1; treatment often involves regular monitoring and treating any health problems as they occur.
Rhonda describes what it’s been like to learn from her experiences.
“The toughest part of my journey was learning that people will treat you differently regardless of who you are on the inside,” she said.
“I have always been a bright confident person. I don’t remember ever not being confident. My condition hasn’t affected my love life either; I don’t chase love, I let it find me.
“My friends and family are proud of me and have always said, ‘she is such a strong person for having to go through everything she has been through’.
“Don’t worry about how society thinks you should look, society is wrong; everyone is beautiful inside and out. Love who God made you to be. I’m glad I have the life I have. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.”