Helpline 07939 046 030

Liz’s NF1 story: This is the real me

26 April 2023

Hi, I am Liz, a mother of three from Yorkshire.

Rare Disease Day creates visibility and community. Nerve Tumours UK raises awareness by focusing on the stories and fundraisers that highlight the impact of NF every day.  Follow in Liz's footsteps and share YOUR story by emailing info@nervetumours.org.uk. We will publish your story following Rare Disease Day 29.2.2024. Help us make #MakeNFVisible.

I was diagnosed with NF1 when I was 5 years old. My mother had NF, as did her mother and a couple of her brother and sisters. I had hard painful lumps and café-au-lait marks from an early age.

Growing up, I found it really hard to fit in at school because of learning difficulties and the fact I was very small and extremely skinny for my age. When being bullied or joked at, I snapped. I was often alone and too small to join in play. I found it hard to keep up with my school work, writing was difficult and mathematics was even harder. I couldn’t calculate even the simplest
numbers. I was kept in play in school and the teacher would mock me and the class would laugh when I got things wrong. As I went into secondary school, I was in the lowest set of classes and felt I didn’t learn much. It was decided that for most of my exams, there was no point in me doing it because I simply couldn’t do them. I left secondary school with no qualifications.

Somehow, not long after leaving school, my back was beginning to hurt but I ignored it for a bit as I did not to want to make any fuss. One day I woke up and couldn’t feel my legs and it felt like I was walking on jelly and kept falling over. I was taken to hospital where I had some tests, then I was blue-lighted to another hospital where a scan was carried out.

"Sometimes it can be hard to get tumours on the surface of the skin removed as unfortunately some doctors will see it as cosmetic but if they are causing you a lot of anxiety and pain then you can get them removed. In August 2023 I had some removed In Newcastle and a slight debulking of a plexiform. It was in a plastic surgery day ward and the staff were fantastic. I was given tea and toast and biscuits on arrival . I was awake during my surgery all I could feel was a slight tugging of my skin and I was being spoken to softly throughout. It made the situation more bearable and calmed my anxiety. To anyone wanting or even waiting to have some tumours removed when it's annoying you and ruining your self- esteem, be brave and go for it . It won't change everything about your NF it's a little step of control over the nasty little bumps and you'll feel loads better."

Then I came across Libby Huffer, who is affected by the condition herself and is the founder of the social media group Faces of Neurofibromatosis. She is a public campaigner for those affected by NF and has taught me to not be afraid or hide away and to raise awareness.

She is my inspiration and so I decided to help others. Read my poem and share! Raise awareness and stand united on World Rare Diseases Day 2024

Masterclasses in NF: Constitutional Mismatch Repair Deficiency Syndrome as Differential Diagnosis to NF1/Legius Syndrome - Prof. Dr. Katharina Wimmer

Constitutional Mismatch Repair Deficiency Syndrome as Differential Diagnosis to NF1/Legius Syndrome

Prof. Dr. Katharina Wimmer, Medical University of Innsbruck

Masterclasses in NF: Rare NF1-Associated Tumors in Adults - Eric Legius & Prof. Ellen Denayer

Masterclasses in NF: Rare NF1-Associated Tumors in Adults

Eric Legius, MD, PhD, University Hospital Leuven

Prof. Ellen Denayer, University Hospital Leuven

Masterclasses in NF: Optimising Hearing Outcomes in NF2-Related Schwannomatosis - Simon Freeman

Masterclasses in NF: Optimising Hearing Outcomes in NF2-Related Schwannomatosis

Simon Freeman, MPhil FRCS, Manchester Royal Infirmary and Salford Royal Hospital

Masterclasses in NF: NF1 Dermatological Manifestations - Pierre Wolkenstein, Laura Fertitta & Sirkku Peltonen

Masterclasses in NF: NF1 Dermatological Manifestations

Pierre Wolkenstein, MD, PhD, Hopital Henri-Mondor, Paris, France

Laura Fertitta, MD, Hôpital Universitaire Henri Mondor

Sirkku Peltonen, MD, PhD, University of Gothenberg, Sweden

Masterclasses in NF: Breast Cancer in NF1 - Gareth Evans

Masterclasses in NF: Breast Cancer in NF1

Gareth Evans, MD, University of Manchester, UK

Masterclasses in NF: Pain in Non-NF2-Related Schwannomatosis - David Pang

Masterclasses in NF: Pain in Non-NF2-Related Schwannomatosis

David Pang, MD, ChB. Guys and St Thomas' Hospital NHS Trust, London

Masterclasses in NF: Distinguishing Non-NF2-Related from NF2-Related Schwannomatosis - Clinical and Genetic Approaches - Said Farschtschi

Masterclasses in NF: Distinguishing Non-NF2-Related from NF2-Related Schwannomatosis - Clinical and Genetic Approaches

Said Farschtschi, MD, University Medical Center, Hamburg-Eppendorf, Germany

Masterclasses in NF: NF1 Pre-Implantation Genetic Diagnosis - Eric Legius & Prof. Ellen Denayer

Masterclasses in NF: NF1 Pre-Implantation Genetic Diagnosis

Eric Legius, MD, PHD, University Hospital of Leuven, Belgium

Prof. Ellen Denayer, University Hospital of Leuven, Belgium

NF2 Working Together: from a tentative diagnosis and beyond

Understanding the impact that a tentative diagnosis has on a parent. Information and access to the existing NTUK and Specialist Nerve Tumours medical and non medical care network.

NF1 Working Together Part 2: from a tentative diagnosis and beyond

Understanding the impact that a tentative diagnosis has on a parent. Information and access to the existing NTUK and Specialist Nerve Tumours medical and non medical care network.

NF1 Working Together Part 1: from a tentative diagnosis and beyond

Understanding  the impact that a tentative diagnosis has on a parent. Information and access to the existing NTUK and Specialist Nerve Tumours medical and non medical care network.

Masterclasses in NF: Surgery in NF2 - Michel Kalamarides & Andrew King

Masterclasses in NF: Surgery in NF2

Michel Kalamarides, MD, PhD, Hôpital Pitié-Salpêtrière, Paris, France

Prof Andrew King, MBBS FRCS FRCS(SN), Salford Royal Hospital, Manchester, United Kingdom. Member of the MAB of Nerve Tumours UK

Masterclasses in NF: Cognition and Behaviour in NF1: Phenotype and Treatment Approaches - Shruti Garg, Andre Rietman

Masterclasses in NF: Cognition and Behaviour in NF1: Phenotype and Treatment Approaches

Dr Shruti Garg, MBBS, MRCPsych, MMedSci, PhD, Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital, United Kingdom. Member of the MAB of Nerve Tumours UK

Andre Rietman, PhD, Erasmus University Medical Center, Rotterdam, Netherlands

Masterclasses in NF: Emotional Challenges in NF1, NF2 and Schwannomatosis - Susie Henley, Thomas Pletschko & Verena Rosenmayr

Masterclasses in NF: Emotional Challenges in NF1, NF2 and Schwannomatosis

Susie Henley, DClinPsy, PhD, Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust, London UK

Thomas Pletschko, PhD, Medical University of Vienna, Austria

Verena Rosenmayr, Clinical Psychologist, Medical University of Vienna, Austria

Masterclasses in NF: NF1 Pediatric Management - Rianne Oostenbrink

Masterclasses in NF: NF1 Pediatric Management

Rianne Oostenbrink, MD, PhD, Erasmus University Medical Center, Rotterdam, Netherlands

Masterclasses in NF: Associated Glioma in Children - the Optic Pathway and Beyond - Amedeo Azizi

Masterclasses in NF: Associated Glioma in Children - the Optic Pathway and Beyond

Amedeo Azizi, MD, PhD, Head of the Paediatric Neurofibromatosis Program and Paediatric Neuro-Oncology Program, Medical University of Vienna, Austria

Masterclasses in NF: NF1 Orthopedic Manifestations - Eric Legius and Christophe Glorion

Masterclasses in NF: NF1 Orthopedic Manifestations

Eric Legius, MD, PhD. Head of Clinical Genetics Department of the University Hospital Leuven, Belgium

Christophe Glorion, MD, PhD, Department of Paediatric Orthopedic and Traumatologic Surgery, Hopital Necker-Enfants Malades, Paris, France. 

Masterclasses in NF: NF1 Malignant Peripheral Nerve Sheath Tumours - Rosalie Ferner and Viktor-Felix Mautner

Masterclasses in NF: NF1 Malignant Peripheral Nerve Sheath Tumours

Prof Rosalie Ferner, Consultant Neurologist and Lead Clinician for Neurofibromatosis, Guy's and St. Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust, London. Member of the MAB of Nerve Tumours UK and Trustee of Nerve Tumours UK

Viktor-Felix Mautner, MD, PhD. University Medical Centre in Hamburg-Eppendorf, Germany. Head of NF Outpatient Department

Masterclasses in NF - Neurofibromatosis Type 1: Cutaneous Neurofibromas - Pierre Wolkenstein and Sirkku Peltonen

Masterclasses in NF - Neurofibromatosis Type 1: Cutaneous Neurofibromas

Pierre Wolkenstein, MD, PhD. Hopital Henri-Mondor, Paris, France. Head of the Department of Dermatology

Sirkku Peltonen MD, PhD. University of Gothenberg, Sweden. Professor of Dermatology

INFER (International NF Educational Resources) is a series of online educational lectures for medical professionals by leading neurofibromatosis experts. The Masterclasses take place online approximately once a month, each on a different topic, and include real-time interaction between the expert presenter and the participants. The presentations are conducted in English, with real-time audio interpretation available in 6 additional languages: French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish. A recording of each INFER masterclass is then be made available online in each language for those who could not attend an event. INFER is an initiative of Children’s Tumor Foundation Europe, supported by an educational grant from AstraZeneca. https://ctfeurope.org/research/masterclasses-in-nf

BPNA Keynote Lecture - Prof Rosalie Ferner - Neurofibromatosis 1 in the 21st Century

‘Neurofibromatosis 1 in the 21st Century’

Keynote Lecture at the 48th British Paediatric Neurology Association Annual Scientific Meeting on 21st January 2022

Prof Rosalie Ferner, Consultant Neurologist and Lead Clinician for Neurofibromatosis, Guy's and St. Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust, London. Member of the MAB of Nerve Tumours UK and Trustee of Nerve Tumours UK