Parents Wear 'Batman Mask' In Solidarity With Their Little Girl Who Has A Rare Skin Condition
Luna Fenner, now 6-months-old, was born with Congenital Melanotic Nevus, an abnormally dark skin patch made up of pigment-producing cells called melanocytes.
Mum Carol, 35, from Florida, USA, had no idea her little one would be born with the condition.
Carol said: "I was in complete shock. My last ultrasound before the birth had revealed nothing abnormal."
But when Luna arrived, it was obvious something wasn't right.
She had a large dark 'nevus' on her face which was reminiscent of a Batman mask.
But nobody in the room knew what the condition was.
"Then a doctor came up to me and told me to 'be prepared,'" she said.
MRI scans did not detect cancer but Carol was warned that the condition could evolve into the disease in future.
She instantly began searching for surgeons who could perform operations to help her daughter.
It was no easy task and as Carol desperately searched to get help for Luna, she was faced with lots of cruel comments from strangers.
"One time we were at church, and a girl sitting next to us said to her mother, 'Wow, look at her. What a monster.'"
Others check if Luna's contagious.
On Facebook and other social media platforms, Carol has received countless insensitive comments towards her and Luna.
She said: "There are a lot of racist comments. A lot of people get so angry. At the beginning, I wanted to kill everybody.
"Now, I answer with the education I have regarding the condition. But sometimes I still get mad.
"I also receive a lot of encouragement and people who tell me Luna is beautiful. When people say that she looks like the Batman superhero or a butterfly that makes me happy."
Carol and her husband even have matching Batman masks in support of their daughter - a full superhero family.
Despite the unkindness of strangers, Luna is so unaware of it right now that she is just like any other six-month-old child, except for her skin condition.
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Carol said: "She just learned how to jump and she giggles all the time, she's very calm, she doesn't cry often."
All Carol wants is for her daughter not be at risk of melanoma and to start school without worrying about fitting in.
But finding treatment hasn't been easy, with doctors in the US differing in their opinions of how to help Luna.
Full-time mum Carol said: "A surgeon in Boston told me that Luna must be subjected to over 100 sessions of laser treatments. I didn't feel comfortable with that."
"Other surgeons in New York, Chicago and Florida told me that laser would be the worst thing for Luna. They all had very different opinions about what to do and when."
Just as Carol was losing hope, a new message arrived from across the world in Russia from the office of surgeon-oncologist Pavel Borisovich Popov, MD, PhD of laserterapy.ru.
He had seen Luna's case in a newspaper and said he had some pioneering treatment options for her that weren't available in the USA yet.
After discussions with Dr. Popov, Carol and her husband, Thiago Tavares, 32, who works in construction, decided they would give it a try.
She said: "Everybody thinks I'm crazy to go to Russia but I have done a lot of research and gained advice from several doctors and I really think that this is the best option for Luna right now.
"They have technology there that isn't available in the US yet, in the US it would take four years for Luna to be treated, but in Russia I'm told it will be 18 months."
The mum and daughter have made their way to Krasnodar in the southern part of the country this week for consultations.
Carol said: "They will check her and do some exams. Dr. Popov agreed for me to meet some parents of patients who have done it before."
If her initial tests go to plan, Luna will receive six to eight surgeries over the course of 18 months, with each procedure costing around $25,000 (approx £20,102) - a total of $150,000 (approx. £120,634).
A GoFundMe page set up by the family has so far raised $32,000 out of a target of $98,000 to pay for her ongoing treatment.
Carol said: "It's been very difficult for us to raise the money. We still have a long way to go."
Amid all the uncertainty regarding Luna's condition Carol says she hasn't taken time to process what is about to happen.
She said: "It will be a huge relief if it works for Luna. I want to finish the surgeries before she heads to school. I don't want her to get bullied. "
Carol hopes that after the surgeries she can be a source of encouragement for her daughter as she grows up.
"I will teach her how to deal with some bad comments and bad people. She is really strong. I need to prepare her."
While Carol hopes to tutor Luna for her life ahead, Luna is teaching her mother some lessons as well.
"I am a better person now. She's stronger than me. I learn from her. She is the happiest baby I've seen in my life. That's what makes me so relieved."
She really does sound like a real life hero.
There is a GoFundMe page to help cover the expenses for Luna's surgeries here.
Featured Image Credit: SWNS