An 11-year-old beauty vlogger who has garnered 2 million video views does not let the rare condition that has caused her to have a craniofacial malformation hold her back.
Nikki Christou, who lives in London, shares beauty, fashion and lifestyle videos on her Nikki Lilly YouTube page.
The preteen suffers from arteriovenous malformation (AVM), abnormal tangles of blood vessels that cause abnormal connections between the arteries and veins.
At the age of six, veins began appearing on the right side of her face and her nose and gums would swell and bleed. At the time, she thought it was only a cold that would go away.
“But then when I was seven I realized I’m going to be needing operations, treatments, having to quit clubs, not being able to do as much stuff and being a bit homeschooled,” she said in a 2014 video.
“It was really scary and I did feel sorry for myself at first, but then I realized there are so many things I can do. So when I was eight, I started my YouTube channel, and created tons of best friends.”
Her YouTube channel is updated weekly with videos that share beauty tips, cooking lessons and personal stories, among other things. Her content has earned her 38,000 subscribers.
“I have always been interested in makeup and beauty,” she told People. “I remember watching my mummy and my cousins putting on makeup and being mesmerized. I thought it was magical how you could be transformed.”
Christou has had 20 major operations and around 300 hospital visits since her first surgery at the age of six. She travels out from her home in London to see specialized doctors in Denver, Colorado, each time.
Because of the difficulty and costs of her treatment, Christou and her parents started the Butterfly AVM Charity, which has raised over 175,000 pounds ($250,000) to help pay for other sufferers’ medical fees and to further research on the condition.
In 2013, Christou was presented with a WellChild award by Prince Harry that recognized her as inspirational and brave. She was also given a National Diana Award in the same year that honored her for the research money she raised through her charity.
“If you just focus on the negatives you are not going to enjoy life,” she said. “You can either be negative and not enjoy life or you can be positive and block out all the negativity in your life and live a lovely, healthy, joyful and happy life.”
“If you believe in yourself, really try hard and block out all the negativity in your life, you will lead a happy life.”
Christou expressed her hope that she would continue on her inspirational path.
“I just want to carry on vlogging and one day hope to have many more subscribers!” she told People. “I hope that I can continue being as healthy as I can be, carry on doing well at school and pray that one day our charity can fund enough research so that we can find better treatments and a cure for all AVM sufferers around the world.”