Over to you
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