Snapshot: Matthew "Basil" Hopkins

Tell us a little about yourself.

My name is Matthew. I’m 28 and I live in Londonderry. I work in the local butcher shop in Kurrajong. I’m also a member of the Rural Fire Service at Londonderry.

I was born in Nepean Hospital. I lived for a short while in Blaxland, then moved to Londonderry in around 1994 with my family. I have been in the area ever since. My family is close. We might not see each other much due to work, but we do like to spend time together.

One day in 1992, I had a check up at the doctor, and they found a lump on my back. I still have it, as it’s not doing too much. From seeing my local doctor, we went to Westmead Children’s Hospital to see the specialist. I still go for a scan once a year, just to make sure nothing is growing.

What is NF1?

Neurofibromatosis Type 1 is a genetic condition. It’s very common, affecting around 1:3000 to 1:5000 people. A German doctor called Frederich von Recklinghausen first described it in 1882, which is why it was formerly known as Recklinghausen’s Disease. Because it’s a syndrome, it has characteristics that often occur together. It can be severe or mild. Most people who have NF1 are only mildly affected by it. For a small amount of people, NF1 can be the cause of major health issues. We still don’t know enough about NF1 to be able to predict who will be only slightly affected and who will be more severely affected.

How might it be challenging for someone with NF1 to have a "normal" life? Is there anything you need to change about your life because of it?

Not really, no. I just try to live life to the fullest. Others have it worse off than I do.

How might people misunderstand NF1? What would you like your community to understand about neurofibromatosis?

Well it’s not that well known. Like… not many people know about it, as it’s not often spoken about.

What are the things about life that you just love to get stuck into? What makes you excited about your day? You love travel, right? Where have you been so far?

I just love to live life to the max. I love getting up and trying new things when I can. I love to travel have been to parts of Asia, such as Singapore, Malaysia and Hong Kong. I’ve been as far as the UK, Paris and just a little bit closer in New Zealand.

Where would you like to travel next?

Might like to see some more of mainland Europe, but for now I’m just happy to explore our own backyard. Australia has a lot to offer and a lot to see.

The Diverse Hawkesbury project is about using oral histories to educate people about all kinds of differences – differences that provide learning opportunities for all. Do you have an interesting story to tell? Get in touch via the "Let's Talk" tab.

Matthew with his beloved motorbike.


Featured Posts