A grandmother of three from Georgia, who has lived with what is known as the worst case of neurofibromatosis type 1 in America for 50 years, is finally learning to live with her appearance. Sixty-four-year-old Charlotte Hawkins of Loganville, Ga., has held herself hostage in her own home after being ashamed to leave the house because of the bubble-like benign tumors that cover her entire face and body. Now the brave grandmother is helping out at her local church by telling stories and teaching prayers to the kids who accept her without question and treat her the same as everybody else.

“I love children. I live in a great community. I love playing with the kids and reading them stories. They help to make me feel young,” said Hawkins, the Daily Mail reported. Hawkins’ friend, Anne Schuffer, a playgroup volunteer at the church, showed praise for Hawkins’ positive attitude. “I cannot remember a single time she's ever complained. And there have been times that people have said things to her or reacted in a way that have kind of hurt her feelings but Charlotte just keeps going,” she said.

Hawkins learned about her incurable skin condition at the tender age of 15. She began to notice unusual growths starting to appear on her back, but quickly turned to surgery to have the benign tumors removed. However, after the birth of her son Charles, the growths began to return on her face and back. Her case was so severe that the lumps began spreading, and it was no longer possible to keep removing them.

Hawkins’ neurologist, Dr. Coruna Shah, told TLC’s UK series Body Bizarre, “Charlotte comes for regular checkups. What we do is check all the individual tumors to see there has been no change in growth or size of the tumors. We also look into her eyes and make sure there is no loss of vision in her eyes, as there can be tumors of the optic nerve in the back of the eye and can cause her to go blind.”

Neurofibromatosis type 1 is characterized by the growth of tumors along nerves in the skin, brain, and other parts of the body, according to the Genetics Home Reference. These tumors are noncancerous (benign), which are located on or just under the skin. They can also occur in nerves near the spinal cord, or along nerves elsewhere in the body. Hawkins may be at risk for further health problems like high blood pressure, a curved spine, learning difficulties and behavioral problems, and malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumors.

Hawkins journey is expected to appear in Body Bizarre, airing Thursday at 9 p.m.