Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Case Study #9 - Meg Embracing Miles

"Meg Embracing Miles" 30" x 24" oil on canvas
I met Meg on Facebook back in 2010. I painted her portrait (pictured below) as one of the very first in my Many Faces of NF series. Later she asked me if I could help her out by painting the portraits of three children living in an orphanage in Nicaragua. I agreed to help out. Truthfully, I can't imagine what life in an orphanage is like, but I'm guessing they could use all the help and donations as they possibly can get. So, it was no trouble at all for me to be able to help her out with her request as she provided many photos of the children and let me decide which ones to paint. The portraits were then auctioned off and the money raised went to support the kids. 

Meg sent me her story to accompany the first portrait, in her words:

30" x 24" oil on canvas - underpainting
"I was diagnosed with NF as an infant. My case was caused by a spontaneous mutation, neither of my parents have NF and nor do my younger brothers. For the most part I had a pretty normal childhood, other than having a large tumor on my lower back that was extremely painful when bumped, and also one on my foot. When I was 8, I had major surgery to remove both tumors. My parents had shielded me from the seriousness of the surgery and the fact there was a chance I would not walk again after the surgery, but I did know that without the surgery I would eventually be paralyzed. The following summer, though, was when things really changed for me. Our local newspaper ran an article about Neurofibromatosis and used my family as the subject. The unfortunate title of this article was "Living with Elephant Man's Disease." For the next several years I was teased and called names like "Elephant Girl." It was really the first time I had felt "different" because of my NF. The worst part of growing up with NF before the Internet Age was not really knowing anyone else who had NF, other than the people I would see once a year when my parents would host a cookout and raffle for NF. 

2011 Watercolor and Wax
In spite of challenges like that growing up, as well as several more surgeries, I lead a pretty normal and fulfilling life. I graduated High School with an Advanced Diploma, went to Virginia Tech and graduated with a BA in Communication Studies and minors in Theatre Arts and Liberal Arts, have a job and am active in my church where I volunteer with our Preschool Sunday School, sing on the Music Team and am involved in our Women's Ministry and Missions Ministry. I have been to Nicaragua 14 times since 2003 to volunteer in an orphanage, and have more trips planned. I have also met so many amazing friends through Facebook who have NF, or whose children have NF and am so grateful for the support and friendship that has grown, even though many of them I have never met in person. I pray every day that we will have a cure for NF some day. The sooner the better!"

No comments: