…And… We are back!

Well hello there! Welcome to 2017! We last left you a note that we were taking the holiday season off and that’s just what we did; but it’s time to dive back into things. As I’m sure you all know, the holiday season can be all encompassing. We wanted some time to focus on another project and be present in all the winter festivities. Some things went as planned and we promise to share about that later but honestly, life had a different plan for us these past few months and we went through some personal struggles regarding loss. That too, we will share down the road but I’m not quite ready to go there.

For now, let’s catch up on where we are at in the Nevus world. We gained some new followers during our break and fresh faces are always looking so I will give a quick reminder of why we are here.

My daughter was born with Epidermolytic Hyperkeratosis, specifically Aconthotic and hyperkeratotic epidermis with focal dyskeratosis including linear epidermolytic epidermal nevus and epidermolytic acanthoma, a hemangioma and a stork bite, also a form of nevus, on her neck. The hemangioma never grew, it’s the same size now as it was at birth but her stork bite, also a form of nevus, has continued to grow and her LEN has opted not to slow down. In comparison to others we feel blessed, her LEN remains light in color and relatively flat but continuously changing.

What does all of that even mean?

Broken down, it essentially means she has EHK and LEN.

Linear Epidermal Nevus (LEN) is a rare genetic skin disease effecting about 1 in 100,000 people that typically effects the limbs and torso. Her particular kind sticks to one side of the body, in our case, her left side. In infancy it is light tan and flat but will thicken, darken and often become warty as one ages. There is a possibility of skeletal, bone, ocular and neuro abnormalities that may develop; in which case it would be consider a “syndrome”; the lesions alone do not indicate a syndrome. There is a chance that the lesions may develop tumors, some benign, some cancerous. Open lesions are susceptible to infection, causing further health risks. About one in five people will experience a malignant cancer in their lesions.

There are many other forms of Nevus including Congenital, Sebaceous, giant, and closest in kind, ILVEN. It is caused by a genetic mutation in the ectoderm during gestation. At this time there is no “cure” – though there are potential medicines and procedures to help with discomfort and visualization. Occasionally, surgery will be warranted if the size or site indicate so. Excision is the only true “cure” for LEN or ILVEN. The rest is all maintenance so it all depends on how severe your specific case is.

The subtype of Epidermolytic Hyperkeratosis (EHK) is even rarer than LEN. It effects about 1 in 250,000 people and makes Mermaid’s skin fragile. There are two types of EHK, my daughter’s is the NPS type. We will explore that more this coming year. The dyskeratosis and aconthosis is a fancy way of saying there is an abnormalization of the skin keratin causing thickening.

So where are we today?

Currently, we are on our 3rd dermatologist and live day to day with what the future may hold. We have been blessed that thus far she has not developed any of the potential abnormalities and most likely wont, with one exception. Her vision, her eyes were checked about 1.5 years ago and they questioned her vision a little bit. As a result our new dermatologist recommended we follow up. We will be seeing the same pediatric opthomologist, which we LOVED,  for our second time in a few short weeks. The obvious things they are looking for are cataracts and colobomas, some people refer to an abnormality as a “key-hole.”

Additionally, Mermaid’s disease is growing on her hand, over the joints. Nothing has been set in stone but all 3 dermatologists have mentioned the potential of needing excision surgery near school age. We are a ways off from that so I can’t speak to that more than saying it is a possibility.

One of the first things we were told was to be aware of was the potential of developing “Wilm’s tumor” – childhood kidney disease. This has been controversial from source to source but nonetheless, is there. She will officially be in the clear at age 6.

Over the past few months Mermaid has developed a new spot on her back and the base of her skull that are itchy, raised and extremely bothersome. We are waiting them out to see if they progress but will probably go in to have them checked soon.

Where we are today is night and day to where we began. In the beginning I was scared, plagued with anxiety, confused and uneducated. I now have a good grasp on what we are dealing with and the anxiety has mostly subsided. I say “mostly” because there is always that lingering fear of cancer, be it in the form of melanoma or kidney cancer, that, I will never shake, though it is far from the forefront of my mind, more of a foot note.

We have grown so much as a result of my relentless research and support from everyone here at Mommy’s Mermaid.

To our new followers, we welcome you, and thank you for joining us, to those just browsing, thanks for stopping by, and for our long time friends and followers, we appreciate and love you all.

We look forward to spending the next year sharing our journey, hearing your stories and hopefully making progress and new discoveries in the nevus world.

Cheers to 2017!

Thanks for walking with us today!

Mermaid’s Mommy

Mommy’s Mermaid is taking the Holiday Season off to focus on other projects. We will be happy to share if we have made any progress after the first of the year when we return. Until then, keep your chins up and continue to search for answers and trials that bring light to others!

Mermaid’s Mommy

 

 

MollyMadison making smiles!

We have so many talented people in our lives; from top chefs and bakers, to woodworkers and tanners. One special friend is a master at crocheting, you know… that thing with yarn.

Crocheting came around in the 1800’s and has long had a place in history. In the 20’s you saw it being worn in the form of hats & dresses then in the 40’s it became part of the wartime effort, women making items for the troops. In the 50’s & 60’s the art exploded, patterns blew up and you could find items nearly everywhere, if you have never checked out some of the crocheted clothes from the 60’s, you really should do yourself the service and look it up! It seemed to fade off a bit, the world was changing fast and it was kind of left behind, but not for long….

Today you can find blogs, websites, patterns, pretty much anything your heart desires to see and know about the crocheting world right at your fingertips on the world wide web.

There seems to be this age-old argument of what’s easier or better? Crocheting or knitting? I personally have tried both, and I personally can NOT do either one. It’s not my strong suit. Which makes me thankful to have someone in our lives that holds this talent!

In true mermaid fashion we received a gift from our friend Molly in the form of a mermaid tail. From the minute my Mermaid laid eyes on it she was in love. She hugged it and wouldn’t let go! We had to make a deal that at bedtime it was to be put up until the morning. I awoke to not only a Mermaid in my bed, but a mermaid TAIL in my bed! When asked how it got there she told me “It got up and walked here!!!”

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She loves her tail, and I love that it was made by someone special. The other day Mermaid came up to me in the kitchen and said “Mama, I don’t want my scales to go away”, I said good, because they’re yours to keep! her response? “because the mermaid’s made a spell that gave them to me!” and I told her that was right.

Her wanting to keep them is a far cry from a few weeks ago when she told me they were disgusting, so I will embrace it. The gift means so much to us, to have people that embrace her story and help cheer her on in all the smallest of ways warms my heart.

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We thank you for our gift!

Molly is truly talented and I encourage you to take a look at her online shop. There will always be new things added!

https://www.etsy.com/shop/MollyMadisonHOC

Thanks for walking with us today,

Mermaid’s Mommy

From hiding to Hollywood!

Mermaid’s disease has introduced us to all forms of Nevus, where occasionally we shed tears over the stories and difficulties everyone faces, we also get to celebrate.

Meet Marika Nagy from Manchester, a fellow member of one our support groups who got her chance to tell her story.

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My favorite line…

“My birthmarks make me special. The world would be a very boring place if we all looked the same.”

With Marika’s blessing we share her story, she is such an inspiration to all of us!

Click below to read her story on the daily mail!

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-3809507/Girl-coverered-birthmarks-bullied-looking-like-cow.html

Marika – we look forward to seeing you on the big screen!

Thanks for walking with us today!

Mermaid’s Mommy

Lean toward happy…

Those of you that know me personally, know that I am a huge baseball fan. Where my team’s season is about over with basically no shot in the series I will still be glued to what’s happening all October. I recently read an article rooting against the Cubs to take the World Series and before everyone in Chicago gets upset at me for agreeing, let me tell you why. You see, the Cubs haven’t won a world series since 1908. Yes, they deserve their moment in the limelight but if they win, we lose one of the last connections to old-time baseball. To me, the time of the greats. The time where players were heroes, before other sports dominated the world and baseball was the leader. If they win, what will they grumble about for the next 100 years? I love this writers perspective, but win or lose, I love the sport.

There is a special little boy named Dylan who also has a love of the sport and right now, he needs you to help him hit a home run this October. October 3rd Dylan will be going in for his 27th… yes, you read that right, TWENTY SEVENTH surgery.

Dylan was born with Giant Melanocytic Nevus. A rare condition found in 1% of infants. Additionally he has Neurocutaneous Melanocytosis (NCM) which means he has it in his brain and spine as well.

Dylan’s form of Nevus runs the risk of melanoma and to help prevent that he will yet again, be undergoing another surgery.

In the photo on the right, Dylan is holding a picture of his friend Christian wrapped in the Lord’s arms. Christian and Dylan became friends when Christian was only 6 months old. This week marks Christian’s 2 year Angelversary. Christian lost his battle with Melanoma that was present in his Nevus at 19 months of age. I speak frequently about the potential side effects and our fears, our family has also endured the loss of a friend to Melanoma but Dylan’s fight reminds us all too much of those painful realities.

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(Dylan and Christian a few short months before Christian’s passing)

Christian’s Mom shared with me that the two boys and families became fast friends, following Christian’s passing Dylan even stood in her wedding. His Mom wanted me to share with everyone reading this that even in his darkest times, Christian was always happy. A doctor on the palliative pain team at children’s hospital said he’d never seen a baby so good spirited. He said ” no matter what gets thrown Christian’s way, his natural inclination is to ‘lean toward happy’… its remarkable, really!” That stuck with Christians Mom and has been a huge piece of her grieving. When things get tough, she remembers Christian’s resiliency and leans toward happy.

We NEED a cure for Melanoma. No family should endure what either of these boys families have, whether it’s in the form of loss, or prevention.

I was talking with one of Dylan’s parents today and I felt silly for my worry surrounding Mermaid’s nevus. She gently reminded me that we are all on a different journey, and she is right. We all have struggles and concerns valid to our lives. Some bigger than others, but in no way, shape or form, does it make any of them less.

As I’m sure you can imagine, with surgery comes cost and time off of work for his family. He has an amazing family that has done everything they can, and will continue to do everything they can to ensure his wellbeing. Right now, it’s our turn to help ease their burden, just as they have done for Dylan his entire life.

Dylan’s family has put together a fundraiser where they are selling water bottles and shirts to raise money to help offset some of the cost following surgery. You can donate or order using the link below.

http://fnd.us/01ASMb

I know we can’t always give by way of money and sometimes the biggest gift is that of prayer. So as October rolls around, keep this little slugger in your thoughts, give the family some encouraging words and tell them Mommy’s Mermaid sent you!

You can read about the specifics or follow Dylan’s story on his own personal facebook page at:

https://www.facebook.com/DylansAmazingJourney

To follow Christian’s mom on her path of recovery and learn more about his short but meaningful journey you can go to:

https://www.facebook.com/ChristiansSpecialSpots/?fref=ts

To Dylan, you are stronger than most people I know, you will heal and once again amaze us all. I have no doubt that Christian will be by your side through your entire process. You will be back on the ball field before you know it, and think of it this way, while your home healing, you can enjoy the world series! You will be in our thoughts and prayers before, during and after your surgery.

Tanya, Kara and Nikki – your strength is far from unnoticed. To Tanya and Kara, I want to thank you for trusting me with you stories, emotions and lives. I think I will forever remember to “lean towards happy” when I am having a rough one.

“Our wounds are often the openings into the best and most beautiful part of us.”
David Richo

Thanks for walking with us today,

Mermaid’s Mommy

A threenager’s thoughts…

Most days our lives mimic other people’s with a toddler, trying of our patience, astonished by the next big accomplishment, mortified by the new sentence or phrase they picked up, tiring as we fight sleep, attitudes, messes and defiance, and quite possibly the most beautiful experience we will ever have. I find myself constantly in awe of what my little being is teaching me and often forget what life was like before she was here. I joke that I want quiet and moments of solace but when I get them, I feel partially empty. I have learned that the pure chaos she brings me, is just what I always wanted.

Then there are times when I am reminded that unlike other people’s lives with a toddler, our journey is slightly different. Where her disease in no way, shape or form prohibits her from anything in life, it occasionally rears its ugly head and forces us to face it dead on. Sometimes that’s in the form of an appointment or treatment, but tonight, it was in the form of words.

As we were finishing bath time I asked her to lift her arm so I could use our special soap on her scales and very matter of fact she said “My scales are disgusting.” First of all, disgusting? Big word for a little girl. Second of all, how, why, where would she have heard something like that? but lastly, ouch. That hurt Mommy to hear. I replied just as matter of fact by saying “No they’re not, your scales are beautiful.” To which she replied “Thank you Mommy, but they’re disgusting.”

I opted not to argue or acknowledge her second statement and just moved on. I told Daddy what she said and he frowned. It seems harmless but it’s so far from that. My two biggest fears are of course, cancer, be it in the form of a wilm’s tumor or melanoma and her being embarrassed or uncomfortable in her own skin. Were blessed that for the most part, her nevus is hidden beneath her clothes and the ones that aren’t are hard to spot with the naked eye unless you know it’s there or are looking, so to this point we have had very little interaction with the public making much of a fuss. So where did she get this idea? Yes, she is three and they come up with the craziest things, half the time she doesn’t even really know what she is saying, but she was so matter of fact about it.

I think back to our first days after being diagnosed and how plagued I was by the thought of this very scenario. That one day, I knew she would resent her disease. That one day I would be trying to reassure she was beautiful even with a few blemishes, but not at THREE. My hope is that by not engaging in it, telling her I love them and moving on it gets out of her head, that she sees I don’t fuss about it.

As her Mom it completely ruins me inside. There are so many other things life she will have to overcome, things she will have to give all her attention to overcome that I never want this to be one of them, though I know that is only wishful thinking. It’s hard enough as a woman to live up to what society thinks we “should be” that I fear the additional hurdles she will face as her nevus continues to spread. I suppose at some point it was bound to happen, I just wasn’t ready for that time to be now.

Her timing is odd considering right now, it looks the best it has in months. I think the cooler weather is limiting the irritation and amount of flare-ups we have had. She has complained maybe once recently that it was bothersome.

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So to all my parents out there, nevus or other skin conditions, what do you tell your little one’s when they say stuff like this? How do you address their remarks about themselves? I look forward to hearing your expert advice!

Thanks for walking with us tonight,

Mermaid’s Mommy

New adventures…

This past week we said our farewells to our favorite Physician who has chosen to depart our health care organization and explore other options in this crazy thing we call life. Where selfishly we are sad, we are excited to see where his next adventure leads him. It feels like we have been saying a lot of goodbye’s lately but it’s not completely surprising. We are home. Most physician’s take jobs far from their roots and eventually life leads them back home. I have long thought that any decision that puts your family first, is never the wrong decision. Medicine is a tough world to be in, appointment times are getting shorter, enrollment increases, demands skyrocket and all the while we try to do what we can in the given time, but its never really enough time. It’s stressful to say the least. There are a million reasons one chooses to leave, we are just sifting through the emotions of seeing another fantastic person go.

I had to ask myself why I am so upset about his departure, yes – we have been with him for many years now and he has been with us since day one with Mermaid, but it’s not the length of the relationship that brings me down. I’m not one to feel overly impressed by a degree or status. knowledge is helpful, but even in the beginning he let us know he would be learning with us when it came to Mermaid and I respected that honesty. You can be the best scholar, have rotation experience beyond your coworkers, years under your belt, but is that all that matters? So what is it? It was a different relationship, I never felt like I was a number, he listened, understood where I was coming from and trusted my thoughts that weren’t always traditional. On our last visit he mentioned me wanting someone who would think outside of the box and he nailed it on the head. I have a daughter with an unconventional rare disease, with little to no treatment, it forces me to think outside of the box when it comes to treatment. With little knowledge in the medical world I lean on all of you along with extensive research to help guide us and he respected that.

I have spoke briefly about my rough pregnancy and struggles that followed after birth but not a lot of detail, saving that for a different avenue I’m working on, but he was there through what feels like the roughest 3 years of my life, physically and emotionally. When Bailey was diagnosed, I was heartbroken, when her specialist declined to perform a biopsy, he did it. It may have been a first on such a little one and he did amazing. When I needed a signature for one of our unconventional treatment ideas he signed it, and again to hold onto at our last visit for future use, despite recently being denied by someone covering because they felt uncomfortable with it. When I felt crazy after having Bailey and cried every single day from the pain I was in, he helped me through it. When my options ran out and it led to my hysterectomy, he was there for anything I needed leading up to it and after as we sift through the last leg of remaining symptoms. The thought that I have to start at ground zero with someone who won’t fully understand the level of despair and need we had been at is hard to swallow. Yes, I cried in our last visit.

We are nearly the same age and did  lot of life events close together, marriage, kids… it gave us more to talk about than just “what can I do for you today” and I always appreciated that. No, I have never been one to be overly impressed by a degree or status, but I AM impressed with how someone treats you. We spent most of our last visit talking about life, where we hoped both our paths would lead in the coming years and it was bittersweet.

Mermaid was snapping pictures with her tablet as we talked, it was borderline creepy, but she was entertained and honestly, it’s probably my fault for taking pictures literally 24/7 so I couldn’t blame her. Now, I’m glad she did, where she really needs to work on her skills, I suppose this is how a 3 year old views her visit.

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Don’t get me wrong in reading this. We have an amazing support system. Immediate family, extended family, work family, friends, my amazing husband, we truly are blessed, but there are some things your support sytem can’t do for you. You know, like the medical side of things. To so many people reading this I know you understand what it means to find that right Physician, someone who you trust, in our case, someone who felt like a friend, I know you are keen to how important it is in our world, and when it goes away, we all feel a little lost.

To our favorite Physician, may you ever lay eyes on this… and don’t feel like I made it clear,  Thank you. Thank you for being our rock, our advocate and always treating us like people. Whether you feel it or know it, you are an amazing Physician, as you know, I have been around a long time and I put you in that handful of exemplary people to walk into my Kaiser world. Whether you choose Medicine or a different road, keep that bedside manner. Continue to get to know people and truly show them you care. It will take you far.

To all our readers, so much of my knowledge never would have happened without that biopsy, it led us to a true diagnosis and the Yale study, without that signature we never could have shared the incredible results of our wartPEEL trial and without his helping hand I personally never could have gotten to the place I did to start this whole adventure. Wish us luck on our journey to find our next cohort on this wild ride.

Onward and upward to our next chapter.

Thanks for walking with us today,

Mermaid’s Mommy