Feb 29, 2012

I married the Bubble Man and I've got no regrets even though our son could end up like him': Heartbreaking story of family stricken by rare tumour disorder

 Mohammad Umar, pictured here with wife Farhat-un-Nisa,

A 62-year-old dubbed the 'Bubble man' because his body is covered in tumours has revealed how people treat him worse than a 'dirty stray animal'.
Mohammad Umar started growing small lumps on his hands at 14, and since then his body has slowly been ravaged by benign tumours. Now, they cover his entire body.
'I'm a good man,' he said. 'And I can work hard but my looks are a problem to other people. No one likes looking at me or being near me. It's ruined my life.'
Mohammad Umar, with his wife and three sons
Umar, from Hyderabad, India, was born healthy. His mother had lumps on her hands but no where else. Without realising she had passed on a more agrressive disease. She died in 2001.
'I was born with soft smooth skin,' he said. 'I didn’t realise what they were when they started growing at 14 but then my mother noticed they were the same as her hands and took me to see a doctor.'
But as the years passed Umar's condition progressively got worse. By the time he was 20 he had random lumps growing on numerous parts of his body.


 
He said: 'I knew it was going to get worse. I knew it was a nightmare to come.' The doctor told him he could pass it on to his children if he married.
He said: 'The doctor said there were no guarantees but it was a possibility. I worried about it for years. I wondered whether I should ever marry.'
But then Umar met Farhat-un-Nisa, 45, fell in love and married when he was 28. Farhat did not care about Umar's lumps back then.



Mohammad Umar pictured aged 37 in 1987 (left), aged 48 in 1998 (centre) and as a 56-year-old in 2006 (right)
She said: 'I could sense Umar was a good man. He was kind and generous. My family warned me that the future could be difficult if his skin got worse. They even consulted a doctor on my behalf. But I took the risk.'
They went on to have children, and thankfully as they grew up they seemed unaffected. But as years passed Farhat could only watch as her husband become engulfed in huge itchy tumours.


 
She added: 'I felt very helpless. Doctors said there was no cure for him. It changed him, he was once very happy but he became very insecure and scared. We struggled to live and raise our family.'
Meanwhile Umar lost his job as a luggage assistant at the local railway station. And no one would give him another job.
He said: 'As the lumps grew bigger people stopped me carrying their luggage so my boss sacked me. I tried to find another job but people would just tell me to leave with a look of disgust on their face. It was humiliating.'
Umar has even struggled to rent a house. 'Many landlords don't want me living in their property. We've had to move many times. People think I will infect everything.'
In the end Farhat had to get a part time job in the local school to provide for the family.
Umar felt worthless as a man and husband, and as a father to his married daughter Shama, now 25, and sons Mohammad Hussain, 20, Mohammad Subani, 18 and Khaja, 12.
He said: 'I hate my children seeing me like this. My sons should respect me but what kind of a father am I who can’t provide for his family?'
Umar has now resorted to occasional begging on the streets.
'I walk around the city and wait for people to donate,' he adds. 'I either get people shouting at me and pushing me away or they give me money out of sympathy. It's all I can do to help my family.
'I hate showing myself to people, but if God as made me this way, it's the only thing I can do to get some money.'
And to make matters worse his youngest son Khaja has recently shown signs of growing lumps - the first child in the family to inherit Umar's condition.
'I thought after three children I had been blessed, I was sure I couldn't pass it on and I was so relieved,' he explained.
'But Khaja has some little lumps growing on his face and hands and legs and that’s how my began. I’m devastated.'
Dr Chilukuri Srinivas, a consultant oncologist, from Yashoda Hospital, in Hyderabad, believes Umar has the condition called Neurofibromatosis and there is no cure.