A woman who suffers daily abuse because she has a beard is ecstatic after learning she will be undergoing laser treatment to get rid of her facial hair for good.
Morecambe mum-of-two Cheryl Monks, 32, who was diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) at the age of 12, suffers from excessive hair growth on her face as well as other areas of her body.
Spending up to £2,000 a year on razors, she has been fighting for six years for 10 courses of the treatment on the NHS, which will cost thousands.
But now after her local GP secured the treatment for her she said: “I’m going to be a real girl.”
She said: “I was in tears when I found out. I’ve suffered years and years of abuse and finally something is happening.
“My family are all over the moon, my son Jack, six, said ‘I don’t mind your prickles’ and my daughter Sharon, 14, is ecstatic.
“She hugged me for the first time in two years.
“I’m not having this treatment for vanity reasons, it is a disfigurement. I look in the mirror and I just see a thing.
“I will feel like a girl and that’s all I’ve ever wanted.”
Since she was 12 Cheryl has suffered constant abuse and name calling, some by complete strangers in the street.
She has also been targeted by trolls on the internet.
Following last year’s Eurovision song contest, she was sent pictures on Facebook of bearded drag queen act Conchita Wurst saying: “Did you see yourself on television last night? “Can you see the resemblance?”
But, said Cheryl, of Clarence Street: “People from all over the world apologised for what was said to me. Even Conchita Wurst himself sent me a message saying ‘I really apologise, you shouldn’t be penalised.’
“We are all unique. People should judge a person by who they are, not what they look like.”
Cheryl, who has had cancer as well as suffering from PCOS, has constantly campaigned for treatment for herself and others whose lives are blighted by the condition.
She set up the Inspiration Foundation forum and support group on Facebook, which currently has 7,000 girls and women with PCOS as members.
She said: “(The treatment) will raise my self esteem. I want to help other girls as well, there shouldn’t be a postcode lottery for this treatment.”
As well as making TV appearances on This Morning, Cheryl has been filmed for Channel 4’s Embarrassing Bodies and spoke to the show’s Dr Christian Jessen on Skype.
She was filmed with her beard but so far the segment hasn’t been aired.
Cheryl is due to have her first laser treatment at Leeds Teaching Hospital on January 9.
Facts about PCOS
Polycystic Ovaries Syndrome (PCOS) is the main cause of excess hair in women.
Estimated to affect 10 to 15 per cent of women, PCOS is when the ovaries don’t work properly and are covered in small cysts.
As a result, eggs are released erratically or not at all, causing irregular or missed periods, and often reduced fertility and acne.
One of the most common symptoms is a high level of male hormones (androgens), which leads to hair growth.
All women produce androgens. However, sometimes women produce higher levels, or they may have normal levels, but their hair follicles are more sensitive to androgens.