We are grateful to Retha, a Private Nurse practitioner, for sharing her life with a vascular birthmark with us.
“I am Retha Botha, I have a Port wine stain birthmark, on the right side of my face.
I am 47 years old, 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.”
About the author: Retha Botha is a Private Nurse Practitioner in South Africa. View her VBF Ambassador Profile & Ask her a question.
You can support Retha’s advocacy efforts in South Africa by contributing to her Retha For Africa Give2myVBF Page.
About the VBF “Life with a Vascular Birthmark” Series
Check back for more Stories of Hope from VBF awareness leaders across the world depicting their life with a vascular birthmark. Our goal is to share real stories from those living with vascular birthmarks and their loved ones as part of Dr. Linda’s 2019 focus on the psychosocial aspects of life with a vascular birthmark.