The Vascular Birthmarks Foundation Dr. Linda Rozell-Shannon, PhD President and Founder

“It’s a Birthmark, not lipstick.”

Hello everyone! My name is Sabrina. I was born with port wine stain covering my right cheek until my chin and down to my neck. Because of this, I had a really tough childhood. I was born a twin, but my sister doesn’t have any birthmark. Everyone back then, always comparing me to her and asked me why I was born to that condition when I didn’t even know the reason. Some elders I met often suggested that I use “this cream” or take “that treatment” for removing my birthmark or just say that it will fade away later when I become an adult. Some of the boys in my elementary school would mock me by play shooting me in the face, and the girls would say that I was put on too much lipstick or, when my mother was pregnant with me, she drank too much syrup until it stuck in my face. It was tough for me to stand straight and look into the other person’s eyes directly.

Growing up with little self-confidence, the thing that I hate the most is when a new school academic year would begin or when I met strangers because I have to adapt to a new class and new environment. It means I have to explain to people again that what’s covering my face is a birthmark, not lipstick or an illness. I remember there was a time when I put so on much olive oil because someone said that it would help to reduce the redness, but nothing exactly happen. I also wore so much foundation when I went outside until my skin got itchy, and pimples appeared. I really hate myself to the extent that I can’t stand seeing myself in the mirror.

A couple of weeks before I went to university, my mother took me to a dermatologist to consult about what happened to my birthmark and asked if there was a way to remove it. He said that the only way to make it fade was through laser procedures. The cost that I had to pay for the procedure was around the same as my tuition fee, and my mother said that it was okay if I really wanted to. But I decided not to take the laser procedure because I know during the time my parents also had to pay tuition for my twin sister and my older sister who live in another city. Besides, my mother was worried that if I underwent the laser procedure, it would leave scars on my face.

Last month, I found the VBF page on Facebook and Instagram. Reading other stories really brings me hope and inspires me. I know it’s still a long journey to me loving myself, but I know that I will eventually.

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