A woman who was told by doctors they couldn’t remove a tumor growing on her face as a child has revealed how makeup has helped her to embrace her condition.
Rhonda Manring, 27, from Virginia, was diagnosed with neurofibromatosis, a genetic condition that causes benign tumors to grow along the nerves, when she was two and was told by doctors that surgery could do more harm than good due to her age.
Her tumors grew larger as she grew older and she began experimenting with colorful makeup, before starting an Instagram page which quickly amassed thousands of followers.
The confident 27-year-old now believes her followers have helped her to embrace her condition, revealing: ‘I’m glad I have the life I have. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.’
Makeup artist Rhonda Manring, 27, from Virginia, was diagnosed with neurofibromatosis when she was two
The 27-year-old was diagnosed after her sister noticed a tumor growing on the right hand side of her face (pictured, shortly after the tumor started growing)
Rhonda was first diagnosed with neurofibromatosis after her sister pointed it out when they were children.
She said: ‘My older sister noticed my neurofibromatosis and pointed it out to our mother. She immediately took me to the doctors.
‘When I was diagnosed there wasn’t much they could do that would help; it would have done more harm than good doing surgery back then.
‘I went through a lot when I was little; from breaking my legs a total of five times each and wearing a halo to try and make my right leg grow.’
Rhonda now uses makeup as a way to embrace her condition, and often shares her bright and colorful looks online with her 9,000 followers
Walking out among the public has often been a negative experience for her, with parents pulling their children away from her to avoid them ‘catching’ her condition.
She explained: ‘I kept to myself throughout my years in school; I had a few good friends who are still by my side today and have loved and supported me.
‘I’ve always been a bubbly, out-going person who loves life. The reaction from others would be mainly staring. It still happens to this day or parents pull their kids away as if they can catch it.’
But despite her negative experiences and being constantly stared at by strangers, Rhonda has remained positive in her attitude and was always considered ‘bubbly’ by nature.
What is Neurofibromatosis?
Neurofibromatosis is the name of a group of conditions that cause lumps to grow on the coverings of nerves.
There are two main types, the most common being Type 1 or NF1. It affects around one person in 3,000 to 4,000. There is no known cure.
NF is caused by a mutation in one of the genes. About half of the people who have NF have no family history of the condition.
This is called a spontaneous gene mutation. The other half of people will have inherited NF from their mother or father.
Some sufferers are affected by neurofibromas, which usually appear during adolescence.
These may first appear on the skin as a purplish mark, before a small fibrous lump appears.
They can also grow along deeper-seated nerves inside the body, which can be painful if knocked.
The lumps can increase in number during a person’s lifetime.
NF has also been linked to an increased risk of stroke if growths develop on nerve cells in the brain and cut off the organ’s blood supply.
There is no treatment to stop the lumps from appearing, although surgery or laser treatment can sometimes be used to remove them.
As she grew older, she developed a love of makeup, which motivated her to upload tutorials on Facebook and Instagram where she has amassed an impressive 9,000 followers.
Her social media community has helped her embrace her condition.
She said: ‘I’m a makeup enthusiast; I love being able to go into my makeup room and just create different looks.’
She now wants to raise awareness of neurofibromatosis through her love of makeup to show that it is not a contagious condition and that everyone is beautiful despite society’s perception of beauty.
Rhonda was only diagnosed with the condition when she was two-years-old, after her sister pointed out a tumor growing on her face to her mother (pictured, as a baby)
The tumor on the right hand side of her face went on to grow over time, but Rhonda said she tried not to let it affect her confidence (pictured, as a teenager)
Rhonda now wants to raise awareness for neurofibromatosis through her love of makeup, and dispel myths about the condition
The 27-year-old said she was always a ‘bubbly, out-going person who loves life’ but found peopel would often stare at her when she was out in public
Rhonda went on to fall in love with makeup, and started an Instagram page to showcase her looks, quickly amassing thousands of followers
Neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1) is a condition you are born with and is the more common type.
In most cases, the skin is affected which causes symptoms like; pale, coffee-coloured patches (café au lait spots), soft, non-cancerous tumors on or under the skin, clusters of freckles in unusual places (such as the groin, armpits and under the breast) and problems with the bones, eyes and nervous system.
NF1 is caused by a faulty gene, which leads to uncontrolled growth (tumors) developing in the nervous system.
In half of all NF1 cases, the faulty gene is passed on from a parent to their child. Only one parent needs to have the faulty gene for their child to be at risk of developing the condition.
There is currently no cure for NF1; treatment often involves regular monitoring and treating any health problems as they occur.
Rhonda said she has learnt from her experiences, explaining: ‘The toughest part of my journey was learning that people will treat you differently regardless of who you are on the inside.’
She went on: ‘I have always been a bright confident person. I don’t remember ever not being confident.
Rhonda revealed she was always a ‘confident, bubbly’ person and says she wouldn’t change anything about herself
The makeup artist advised others to embrace who they are, and says she wouldn’t trade her life for anything
‘My condition hasn’t affected my love life either; I don’t chase love, I let it find me.
‘My friends and family are proud of me and have always said, “She is such a strong person for having to go through everything she has been through”.’
She added: ‘Don’t worry about how society thinks you should look, society is wrong; everyone is beautiful inside and out.’