Marissa Dees was born with a rare skin condition that leads to moles and skin to develop throughout her body.
For Dees, her congenital melanocytic nevus disease left her with birthmarks “from [her] skull to over [her] buttocks and wrapped around [her] front and shoulders,” she tells The Sun.
The incredibly uncommon disease — affecting you in every 500,000 people — has compelled Dees to undergo more than 30 surgeries over the years to eliminate the dark spots that place her at a extremely large risk for melanoma, the deadliest and most aggressive form of skin cancer.
“The birthmarks go wrapping around tissues, muscle and the bones,” Dees stated.
What’s left behind after her painful surgeries are scars all over her body.
“I have gone from a back filled with hairy black nevus and moles, to looking like a burns survivor with a back full of scars,” Dees stated.
When Dees was younger, she was often bullied by classmates who phoned her “Dalmatian” or “part dog” due to the spots all over her skin, which made her desire to hide her illness much more.
“As a child, I was embarrassed by how I would wear turtle necks while playing sports and looked and during summer,” she states to The Sun. “But today things have changed. ”
After Dees’ friend, Jennifer Androver, died in April of stage four melanoma triggered by the skin disease, Dees chose to quit hiding her scars or herself.
“It had been the wake-up phone I had to embrace who I am and let other men and women know it is OK to have this condition and show off your scars,” she told The Sun.
The 28-year-old has been having surgeries because she had been six-months old to eliminate the dark spots of skin — first treating the nevus with skin removal prior to moving on to skin expanders, which would stretch Dees’ skin over a “balloon kind device filled with saline,” doctors would then cut out the nevus and then elongate the loose skin to cover the wound.
All of her procedures have led to severe nerve damage that gives her daily pain.
But through it all, Dees attempts to stay positive, citing her. She aims also to promote consciousness and to become a spokesperson for Nevus Outreach and bring acceptance to other people who are currently suffering.
“I don’t wish to hide behind my nevus, I wish to share and help others understand they shouldn’t be afraid to demonstrate their skin,” she explained.
Though she has to keep up her doctor & rsquo; s appointments in case and does continue to fight with the illness some of dark skin or her change looks, which has led her to begin a fundraiser to help raise cash.
“I’m taking all measures I can to reduce my odds of cancer,” Dees explained, “yet this condition is real, rare and scary, the truth is hard as I’ve already lost my pal and seen a great deal of children die too. ”
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