For someone whose mother once said she would not under any circumstances be taking him home from the hospital after he was born, Robert Hoge is a remarkably sympathetic and understanding son.
Mr Hoge was born in Brisbane in 1972 with deformed legs and a large tumour covering his face.
The fifth child for Mary and Vince Hoge, he says his mother was overwhelmed by the situation she faced.
"She saw her son lying in a cot with a big tumour, as big as a newborn baby's fist in the middle of his face, eyes at the side of his head, deformed legs, and I can't imagine how upsetting that must have been for her at the time," he told Australian Story.
"There should be nothing wrong with a newborn baby. It should be a wonderful moment where you can say, 'look my child is perfect'.
"When a child is born every parent is owed that, and so my mother's reaction I think was quite natural.
"You know - shock, disbelief, anger, rejection, and then working through it slowly."
In a sign of the times, a local GP told Mary Hoge to "put him in a home", without even seeing him.
But after much soul-searching, and a conference with the other Hoge children, it was decided that the baby would come home to the family's house in the sleepy bayside suburb of Wynnum.
Mr Hoge's insights come by way of a diary the now deceased Mary Hoge kept, where she documented her fears, frustrations and doubts.
"We described just what Robert looked like and what his legs looked like. We asked the kids separately if we should bring Robert home or not," Mary Hoge wrote in her diary.
"Not one of the children hesitated. Each of them was quite definite that we should bring him home.
"Unlike me, their decision was without reservation."
Unflinchingly honest, it also documents the fierce love she showed for her son once taking the decision to bring him home.
The diary was a constant presence in the household, and Mr Hoge and his siblings were, in a sign of the maturity and honesty with which Mary and Vince interacted with their children, never stopped from reading it.
"There's a note in another of my mum's diaries, which she kept more as a record of events, dated April 1978, which simply reads 'Mum, can you read to me again from your book about when you didn't want to bring me home'," Mr Hoge said.
And he is thankful for that honesty, which Mary displayed to the wider public when their story was first published in The Australian by journalist Hugh Lunn.
"I didn't know that Mary had initially rejected him until I interviewed her and I was a bit shocked and I thought, you know I'd better not write that," Lunn told Australian Story.
"And she said 'no, no it's good because this is going to happen to other women and they should know that this is a natural reaction'."
Mr Hoge came to Lunn's attention aged four, when a team of surgeons reconstructed his face in a series of groundbreaking surgeries.
"Before that, in Australia all plastic surgeons could do was fix the face from the outside and move skin around, but now they were moving the basic structure, getting in there and moving bone about," Lunn said.
While these surgeries helped reshaped his face to the point where he could see properly, they carried a high risk of blindness or even death, and at age 14, Mr Hoge made the decision it was no longer worth rolling the dice for the sake of his face.
"Mum and dad decided that I was old enough to make the decision myself... they went through the risks again and they talked about me possibly going blind when the doctors moved my eyes," he said.
"And Michael [my brother], who hadn't said much, just piped up and said 'well what use is it being pretty if he can't even see himself'.
"And that was just an astounding moment of clarity for me."
As an adult, Mr Hoge has made a career in the often shallow world of the media - first as a journalist, before making the move into politics as a media adviser to former Queensland premier Anna Bligh.
Ms Bligh says he commanded respect wherever he went.
"I think for me, the most extraordinary thing about getting to know Robert, working closely with him, is how quickly Robert's appearance becomes something you don't even notice," she told Australian Story.
"And I think that is because he has not only great intelligence, there's something charismatic about him."
In his late 30s, with a child of his own, Mr Hoge felt it was time to tell his story, walking away from the job of running Ms Bligh's media unit.
Beyond documenting medical milestones and the measured, thoughtful love of his parents, he hoped the story would provide impetus for a conversation about the importance placed on beauty in today's society.
"This is actually a conversation I'd like to have about disability, and about beauty and about ugliness, and the first person I had to have that conversation was with myself," he said.
"Let's not try and hide away difference and try and roll everyone into this one mess of a ball that just so everyone can be treated the same."
Mr Hoge's wife Kate says while his story has always connected with people, the book he has written offers the opportunity to take that connection further.
"I think he's starting to become more aware of how the idea of beauty or ugliness has power over people," she told Australian Story.
"In some ways Rob's experiences are no different from almost anybody else.
"I think every adolescent at some point has felt intensely ugly or uncomfortable, and overcoming that is the passage that we all go through.
"[What's interesting about] the journey that Rob's been on, is that he has had to do that in a really public way and probably in a in a far more intensely self aware way than a lot of people have."