When doctors took one look at Marissa Dees on the day of her birth, they turned to her parents and told them she would never survive the first night. The little girl had been born with a huge birthmark across her back and was unlike any baby these “experienced” professionals had ever seen before in their lives and careers. Besides her deadly prognosis, Marissa Dees was diagnosed with congenital melanocytic nevus, which is a rare condition that causes dark, hairy moles and skin tissue to penetrate into the body and wrap around bones and other internal tissue. But one the second day of her life, the little girl acted just like a normal baby. She had survived. And the doctors had been wrong. But Marissa Dees was not through surprising doctors. She would go on to do that at every stage of her life…
When she was just 6 months old, Marissa had to undergo frequent treatments. Her condition put her at serious risk of fatal melanoma and the doctors had to remove the at-risk tissue.
As she continued to grow, Marissa had to endure not only more surgeries, but the ridicule of her peers. Because she had moles all over her body, classmates nastily called her “Dalmatian” and spread rumors throughout the school that she was part dog. This made Marissa cover up no matter how hot it was outside.
“The birthmarks go under the skin, wrapping around the bones, muscle and tissues. They can be cancerous or pre-cancerous, so I’ve had as many of them removed as I can,” Dees told the Daily Mail. “I have nevus on top of nevus, so am at risk of a fatal melanoma.”
Nevertheless, Marissa made it through life. And now at 28-years-old, things have come full circle. She is a stay-at-home mother living in Florida. She has endured more than 30 operations in an effort to rid her body of the hairy black “nevus” that spans her entire back from her buttocks to her head. And because of the brutal surgeries, she now looks like a burn victim.
This past April, Marissa’s friend succumbed to stage 4 melanoma. It had been brought on by the same condition Marissa has. And with this realization, Marissa knew she had to look at life differently and live her life honestly and openly.
“It was the wake-up call I needed to embrace who I am,” Dees said. “I wear my scars with pride now and let it all hang out. This is my body and how I was made, so I appreciate it.”
That’s why she decided to bare her condition for the camera. And in doing so, she is inspiring other people, to know more people about congenital melanocytic nevus so they can help those who have it and protect their lives ones if they have it.
But ever since she woke up alive on her second day on earth, Marissa has been defying doctor’s expectations. And she has learned to be proud of the woman she was born to be.