I am Retha Botha. I am a private nurse practitioner in South Africa and have a port wine stain birthmark, on the right side of my face.
I am 47 years old and don’t wear makeup most of the days. People have to know me for who I am, and not judge for how I look. When I was a child, the treatment was not as advanced as it is now. I received 5 treatments – argon laser +- 10years ago. The results were amazing, fading was still a year after the last treatment visible.
I have the most wonderful parents in the world – Andries and Sarie Fourie, they gave me the best support. They were always there when I was crying, because I was called names. They encourage me to participate in sports, choir and much more. Due to their help and support, I learned that my friends and family around me, is my safe haven, where I can be myself.
I encourage parents to take their children for treatment as early as possible. Treatment is much more effective in small children, than in adults. The area of treatment is also smaller. Treatment are painful, but you save your child from being tormented by people that are bullies, and not only as a child, but also as adults.
I just want to walk into a shopping mall and not to be stared at or ask did you try to use this cream to take the mark away. Money was the reason I stopped treatment, I wish I could have gone for more. Medical aids in South Africa don’t pays for treatment, it is considered as cosmetic treatment. I have two beautiful children – Piet and Sumarie. My worst fear when I was pregnant was that one of my children will have a birthmark. My husband Stephan is a Reverend in a Afrikaans Church. I’m so fortunate in our church communities – I am accepted for the person I am and not how I look. I love to be around people.
I invite our doctors to get involved, learn more about vascular birthmarks, and cost effective treatment for patients, to help spread awareness of treatment for vascular birthmarks and to help change legislation for vascular birthmarks to be treated as a medical condition, and not as cosmetic treatment.
Shout out to the VBF South Africa crew for raising awareness with us this May!
Your contributions to this page will be designated for VBF Mobile Education in South Africa. By educating local communities on the latest in research and treatment in the field of vascular anomalies, we can change the course of treatment outcomes for future generations of birthmark patients and their families in South Africa and the surrounding region. Every contribution makes a difference.