17 years old Sarah Atwell has diagnosed with a genetic condition neurofibromatosis. She was just eight months old when doctors diagnosed that she is suffering from this. These tumors can appear on any part of the body. Her parents started noticing the tumor when she was very young. As she grew up her tumor also grew with her.
Talking about her tumor she once said, “‘It grew with me as I grew. In my right ear, it’s kinda hard to hear sometimes, because [the tumor] pulls everything down. And my right eye, it’s just blur.”
Growing up with a tumor isn’t easy. It was very hard for her to listen to all the bullying at her school. She said,”Almost every day at school sucks. My class photo keeps going missing. Someone takes it, I don’t know why. And it hurts. There’s some kids that will call me names and threaten to kill me.”
After years of bullying, she got a glimmer of hope from someone. She was asked to contact Dr. Stevan Morris, a plastic surgeon. She contacted Dr. Morris and undergone a surgery.
The surgery was pretty risky but Sarah and Dr. Morris were ready to take the risk. The results of the surgery are yet to be seen. In all the time she has stayed positive and after the surgery, she was very delighted.
“I was pretty happy because I had straight lips. I kept looking in the mirror and taking pictures of myself. My mom and neighbors were shocked. We sent my dad pictures, and he was really happy. He said as long as I’m happy, he’s happy.”
The plastic surgeon who performed the surgery said, “The nerves are very abnormal, so [typically] there might be a fine wisp of a nerve fiber, but when it grows in neurofibromatosis, it might be as big as a pencil. So we’re trying to maintain normal nerve function and trying to preserve normal structure.”
He admitted that the case was abnormal and there was an overgrowth of abnormal tissues. He said, “When she first came to see me, the lesson really occupied the whole of her right face; it was growing all around her eye, She’d had a couple of previous de-bulking procedures, but [the tumor] went from her nose to the ear on the right, and the skin hung down off of her jawbone. It was an enormous overgrowth of abnormal tissue.”
“While the most significant surgical procedure has now taken place, the work to Sarah’s face is not yet over. Nor can surgeons promise that the tumor won’t grow back. The next procedure will be to de-bulk the tumor around her eye,” Dr Morris said. ‘