I am Gina Rothe, Project Associate with the Vascular Birthmarks Foundation, and a freelance portrait photographer located in the Hudson Valley, New York. I spent most of my life ignoring my vascular birthmark letting people know it was ‘just a birthmark’ when asked, if they were concerned. I was never aware of judgements or bullying until I started to achieve things in athletics and my careers.
But, it’s not just a birthmark. It’s a highly visible physical difference, and one that still requires educating others among general populations and among medical professionals, domestically and internationally. It’s a rare condition that needs certain maintenance that health insurance still denies coverage for.
While having a visible vascular birthmark has presented challenges I’ve always accepted myself and my differences because I believe authenticity is powerful and magnetic.
I’ve been grateful to re-energize in this last year as part of the VBF staff—to use my love for communications and storytelling to help spread awareness, support fundraising, engage with the community, support our free laser clinics, and educate our youth. I’m so grateful to have met others with varied experiences that have the same focused energy. I’m also grateful to have had my vascular birthmark—a lymphangioma circumscriptum—appropriately diagnosed.