Ashley Montagu
About This Series

Times staff writer Thomas Curwen met Ana Rodarte in December 2005 at Scripps Memorial Hospital in La Jolla. Over the next 3 1/2 years, he conducted extensive interviews with her and her parents, and he and Ana engaged in an e-mail correspondence about living with neurofibromatosis. Curwen and Times staff photographer Allen J. Schaben visited the Rodarte home in Riverside County nearly a dozen times for birthday parties, family gatherings and celebrations. They accompanied Ana to consultations with her doctors, and they observed three surgeries at Scripps aimed at restoring her facial features. Times staff writer Paloma Esquivel served as interpreter during interviews with Ana's...