By Candice Fernandez
“I’m a real life hunch back” – a mum of three left with twisted hump in her back after being plagued by 100 tumours.
Liz Barton, 47, from Richmond, Yorkshire, suffers with neurofibromatosis (NF1) – a genetic disorder where non-cancerous tumours grow all over the body.
Liz, who currently has more than 100 tumours across her body – was five years old when she began to feel them scattered across her body and inside her head.
And things took a turn for the worst when at 16 – she was shocked to discover a tumour the size of a golf ball sitting directly on her spinal cord.
Doctors the tumour being removed, Liz woke up from her operation with her spinal cord entirely twisted – causing her to have what is otherwise known as a kyphotic spine.
The mum-of-three claims her life changed forever that day and despite hiding her condition for most of her life, she has decided to finally show the world her hunch back.
Liz, who is unable to work, said: “Although the largest tumour was removed, I was left with my spine entirely bent and sticking out of my back for the rest of my life.
“It’s made me feel like a real life hunch back and at times I feel like a freak.
“I have tried to stay indoors as much as I can over the years to avoid stares from strangers but I don’t want to hide anymore.
“I have a genetic condition called neurofibromatosis, where tumours grow on all my nerve endings.
“Most of the tumours on my body feel like hard peas underneath my skin – I can pinch and wobble them between my fingers.
“I know they are in my head too as I can feel them.
“When I was 16, I was leaving school when I suddenly couldn’t feel my legs and my speech slurred.
“I was sped away in an ambulance to the hospital where they discovered a tumour the size of a golf ball was sitting literally on my spinal cord.
“I had an emergency operation but when I woke up, my spine was completely twisted.
“It has a 100 degree curve.”
Liz suffers with neurofibromatosis type one which affects 1 in 3,000 people – and is incurable.
The tumours – although benign – must be regularly monitored and removed in some cases if hazardous.
She added: “In school when I didn’t have my hump, people used to call me ‘titch’ and ‘half pint’ because I was so small.
“Since the tumour grew on my spine, it has been extremely difficult doing anything as every movement is painful.
“I feel like my better looking friends won’t invite me into photos with them because I’m so small and hunched and it will ruin the photo.
“I even heard a delivery man call me ‘little lass with the hump’ whilst speaking to someone outside my door.
“It has affected my self confidence massively but I hope sharing my story helps others speak out too.
“I don’t want to hide away anymore, I want to educate people on my condition.”
Liz is an administrator for a Facebook group where she helps other sufferers online.
Liz claims her condition not only affects her body but also her mind.
She said: “I didn’t start maturing until I was about 17 – I was very immature and young for my age.
“I couldn’t even hold a pen or pencil properly in school.
“Neurofibromatosis also affects my memory too.
“I have hearing difficulties so I can find it very hard to understand people.
“But my confidence has grown since then.
“I feel sorry for my son, NAME, AGE, as he helps me with absolutely everything.
“I can’t bend down to get something out of the oven, I can’t do my washing, I can’t carry a basket, and I can’t even sit on a normal chair or bar stool in a pub.
“The seats everywhere I go is torture, I often try to perk myself at the end of it if I have to.
“I can’t lay down properly because of my spine either, and it hurts to shower as NF1 makes my skin sensitive.
“It’s horrible, painful and uncomfortable.”
In almost half of cases, neurofibromatosis is genetically passed on.
A child of a parent who has the condition has a 50 per cent chance of inheriting it.
This was the case for Liz – as it has been passed down her family for decades.
Liz’s children, Elliot, 14, Lucy, 16 and Joshua, 21 – all have got neurofibromatosis from Liz.
She added: “My mum had NF, my grandmother had NF and my great-great grandmother had NF.
“Now all my children have it too.
“Elliot has hard tumours underneath his stomach and complains when they hurt.
“Lucy has tumours in her brain.
“Joshua is convinced he doesn’t have it but we aren’t too sure.
“My children help me with everything and have been amazing, I can’t do much things myself.
“It’s really just been a curse for all my family but we are all so close and together, we can get through anything.”