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Stories of NF: Gael & James B

By September 7, 2023December 22nd, 2023Awareness, NF1, Story of NF

I was diagnosed with NF1 at a young age while we were living in South Africa. At the time, no one knew much. I remember school being very hard and not understanding a lot. As a young child, I also suffered from migraines. We moved to NJ when I was in second grade. Not long after starting in the schools here, I was diagnosed with being dyslexic. I also started to get more tumors growing on my body. I still continued to get migraines. A few years later the doctors discovered I had scoliosis. I had to wear three back braces.

Early life was very hard was of being bullied and made fun of. As a kid and teen I was not as aware of NF. I knew I was different because of the café au lait marks, skin tumors, and bumps and wearing a brace. School was so challenging too. In high school I ended up going away to a school for children and teenagers with learning based issues called Landmark School in Beverly, Massachusetts. I was able to graduate High school and then go on to a community college and then a four-year college, graduating from both with a degree in communication and graphic design.

I have two defining moments. One was when I got pregnant with my son and he tested positive for the NF gene. All I wanted was to be a mom and have a child. I was told by many to end the pregnancy because of the unknown. I did a lot of praying and know in my heart things would be ok as I had faith and I know in my heart God would be with us. James was born six weeks early due to my blood pressure being high and being on bedrest. He spent a week in the NICU but was the perfect baby. He had a few café au lait marks but was healthy and only spent a week in the hospital, confirming his NF. He is just an amazing young man and has a never give up attitude.

I think one of the defining moments in my NF journey when I found out I could have the skin tags and tumors on my skin removed that caused constant pain. So in November of 2021, I had my first surgery on my back to remove over 400 of them and then I had the front done where over 100 were removed. Having them removed made such a back difference in how people looked at me and acted around me.

Having a learning disability I always wanted to work with children. I wanted to help impact them so they know they mattered. So during the week I work as a teacher assistant with autistic teenagers. I also volunteer at my church with the youth ministry. Volunteering with the teens makes me happy for them to see what a difference they can make and help them see how they can be kind to everyone and know they make a difference in all the lives they touch.

Favorite Song(s)
Fight Song and The Climb

Dream Superpower
Read peoples minds and time travel

Favorite Food
Buffalo wings and pizza

Fun Fact
I use my creativity to make create different projects such as tumblers, shirts, and wood pieces