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Our brave girl knows that it’s the mark of a sur­vivor

The der­ma­tol­o­gist ex­plained he’d just been sent an e-mail about a trial treat­ment at Great Or­mond Street Hospi­tal, us­ing pro­pra­nolol – a drug used to treat high blood pres­sure.

‘It’s hoped it will shrink birth­marks by starv­ing them of blood,’ he said, and of­fered to re­fer Chloe.

Michael and I jumped at the chance. And, two weeks later, we were on our way to Lon­don with Chloe for her first ap­point­ment.

The doc­tors at Great Or­mond Street warned us the treat­ment was only in its re­search stage, so there were no guar­an­tees.

But, by now, Chloe’s birth­mark was so large, it was start­ing to crush her eye.

‘We’ll try any­thing,’ I said.

Back home, we had to give Chloe the pro­pra­nolol orally ev­ery eight hours for the next 12 months.

We were told Chloe would need check-ups ev­ery month.

But even just a week on, her mark had started to fade. ‘It’s work­ing!’ I squealed to Michael, thrilled. Af­ter 12 months on the med­i­ca­tion, the doc­tors were so con­fi­dent her birth­mark had stopped grow­ing that they weaned her off the medicine.

By then, it had shrunk con­sid­er­ably and was much paler – but a light-pink domed mark still cov­ered around half of Chloe’s fore­head.

We had a son Thomas in April 2012, who thank­fully didn’t have a birth­mark.

Later that year, as Chloe started school, she grew self-con­scious.

‘Mummy, can I get a fringe?’ she asked one day.

I agreed – and, each morn­ing, she’d ruf­fle her new fringe, hid­ing the mark.

But some­times, in the evening, she’d look sadly in the mir­ror and ask, ‘Mummy, is it OK that I’m dif­fer­ent?’

‘It makes you spe­cial,’ I nod­ded, cud­dling her close. But my heart broke for her. When she turned 5, the doc­tors told us that Chloe was old enough for plas­tic surgery to re­move the mark.

Michael and I wanted Chloe to have the best life pos­si­ble, so de­cided to go ahead.

She had three op­er­a­tions, in Au­gust 2014, Fe­bru­ary 2015 and Novem­ber 2016.

Af­ter­wards, all that re­mained of Chloe’s birth­mark was a neat scar and tiny snow-white star on her fore­head.

‘What a dif­fer­ence!’ I whis­pered to Michael, choked.

We were of­fered the chance of a fourth op, where Chloe would have bal­loons placed un­der the skin on her fore­head to stretch it and even it out.

But we turned it down. Our girl had been through enough.

Any­way, af­ter the three ops, Chloe’s con­fi­dence blos­somed.

‘I think I’m go­ing to wear my hair back to­day,’ she’d ex­claim, push­ing her fringe back with a head­band.

Now ev­ery chance she gets, she holds her head up high, and proudly shows off what is left of her birth­mark.

Be­cause our brave girl knows it’s the mark of a sur­vivor.

Now Chloe can wear her hair how­ever she wants!

And Chloe to­day! We’re both all smiles at the dif­fer­ence the treat­ment has made

Nearly gone...

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