James O'Neal compares himself to the 'Elephant Man'......Neurofibromatosis, has deformed his face, but this mans heart and soul are perfectly in tact. NF commonly mistaken for 'The Elephant Man Disease' affects 1 in 3000 people world wide. People affected by this condition develop non-cancerous tumors along their nerves. The tumors are called neurofibromas. They are a mass of different types of cells that grow on and surround nerves. Neurofibromatosis can also cause skin discolorations (also called "café au lait" spots) and bone abnormalities. Men, women, and people of all racial backgrounds may develop the condition.
"I just tell people this is who I am, it's the way I am. If you don't like me, you don't like me," he said. While some may stare, laugh and point their fingers....James faces life with bravery.
James sees hundreds of people a day, during his job as a cashier at Safeway. He is not hiding. He is sharing his spirit with everyone that comes into contact with him. I love seeing this kind of story....His customers like him so much, that they started a fund raising website, to help James raise the money, for his surgery. His employer even donated the first 10,000. It's plain to see James has truly made his mark. He is an inspiration to so many!!
I am in love with James' THRIVING with NF. He teaches all a lesson. When I asked my 8 yr old daughter what she thought of James' picture...her responce was as innocent as it gets...."I bet, if I were to meet him, he would be a very nice man." I sure wish we could all view life, looking beyond physical appearances.