PLACER COUNTY (CBS13) – It’s not the typical brown or tan birthmark many of us have. Vascular birthmarks like port-wine stains come with potentially major impacts on the body and the mind.
From the courtroom to the grocery store, questions are nothing new for Placer County District Attorney Morgan Gire.READ MORE: Sacramento SPCA Celebrating Opening Of New Animal Hospital
“The little kids in the grocery store are my favorite because they often ask in front of their parents,” Gire said. “Their parents will say be quiet or don’t ask that, and I tell the parents it’s OK.”
A father of three himself, Gire says he’s happy to discuss his port-wine stain birthmark.
“The only time to this day when I ever correct people is when they say something like ‘What’s wrong with your face?’ And that was the only time I’d see my mom jump in and say something like ‘There’s nothing wrong with his face, you can ask him what it is,” Gire said.
May is vascular birthmark awareness month. About 3 in every 1,000 babies have a port-wine stain – an overgrowth of blood vessels that can appear anywhere on the body – and when you happen to see someone else with one, “there is that sort of instinctive connection between people that share them,” Gire said.
It’s a connection shared with my own daughter. She was born four years ago with a port-wine stain on her face, but, thankfully, is otherwise healthy – though that’s not always the case. These birthmarks can extend inside the body too.
“If it’s within the eye, there’s areas there we have to look for glaucoma in the brain, we have to look for seizure disorders,” Dr. Suzanne Kilmer said.
Dr. Kilmer had already devoted her career treating issues like vascular birthmarks when her third daughter was born.
“I said port-wine stain and he said ‘Well, she has one and it covers her entire face,’ ” Kilmer said. “At first, I was a little bit nervous but then I thought well if anyone it might as well be me because I can fix it.”READ MORE: Call Kurtis: Lincoln Couple Fined $350 For Car They Sold 5 Years Ago
Fixing it involves laser treatments to try to reduce the vessels. The aftermath, as we’ve learned, looks like a giant bruise, but with time and repetition, it can help them fade.
But for Gire growing up, it wasn’t an appealing option.
“The technology was so basic and painful that it didn’t make much sense,” he said.
Instead, he says he’s learned to use it.
“I think it’s been a great conversation piece,” the district attorney said. “I think it’s something that has indeed made me unique.”
And uniqueness, he says whether it’s a birthmark or something else, can also be a source of strength.
“Own it and let it help you. Let it be a sense of confidence. Let it be part of who you are,” Gire said. “Don’t let it define you. Don’t let it reduce you.”
To this day, Gire says he continues to get about three questions a month from strangers about his port-wine stain, but he says his friends and family don’t even notice it – which I can relate to.MORE NEWS: Newsom Wants To Pay All Back Rent Owed By Low-Income Californians Using Pandemic Relief Funds
It’s amazing how quickly I forget my daughter even has it until it’s time to go in for a laser treatment, and even with treatments, it will keep growing as she grows and never fully disappear.