Man Opens Up On Life Without A Nose After He Loses It To Cancer
WARNING: CONTAINS GRAPHIC IMAGES
A grandfather has opened up about how his life has been derailed after a very rare form of cancer ravaged his face, leaving him with a gaping hole where his nose once was.
Dad-of-three Stephen White has become so self-conscious of his appearance that he has become something of a recluse, admitting he worries that his 'monstrous' appearance will scare people.
The 51-year-old was struck down by nasal cancer in 2015 and was forced to undergo drastic surgery, which not only claimed his nose, but also left him without any top teeth.
Now awaiting a prosthetic nose, Stephen's misshapen face means also means he has been unable to wear glasses for years, leaving him wary of leaving the house alone as is vision is not perfect.
Stephen, a former sales assistant for a car parts company from Exeter in Devon, said: "I scare my grandchildren and when I go out in the street I scare, not just children, but everybody. People look at me and cross the road to avoid me.
"The cancer was right in the middle of my face and I'm still waiting for a new nose. If it wasn't so visible I'd feel like I'd be able to date again. Really all I want is to fall in love.
"Before I had laser eye surgery last month, I could not see further than the end of my arm without my glasses. I couldn't put my glasses on because there was nothing to rest them on.
"I couldn't go out because I couldn't see to cross the road and would be paranoid about bumping into people, as I couldn't see them until they were a yard in front of me.
"Then they would look at my face and see I didn't have a nose. It destroyed my self-confidence and I now have no self-esteem.
"I became a prisoner in my own home, only going out at night time like a vampire, and with my hoodie up, when there was less traffic and less risk of me bumping into people who would judge me."
The grandfather-of-eight has been unable to work since May 2015, having first been alerted to something being wrong in March that year.
"I would be looking down and a droplet of blood would come out of my nose, or when I went to blow it there would be blood," he recalled.
"About a week later, I visited a doctor who put me on a two-week course of antibiotics, but it was still bleeding."
After returning to the doctors a few weeks later, Stephen was referred to hospital for an MRI scan, which showed the bone in the centre of his nose had been eaten away.
He continued: "I was diagnosed with cancer in the nasal cavity in May 2015. It was on the right side of the cavity, going through the nose and working its way backwards towards my brain.
"It was a real shock. It's such a rare cancer that they hadn't seen anything like it before. There were about 15 people in the room discussing what the options were."
According to the NHS, nasal cancer is very rare and develops in the nasal cavity behind the nose, and most often affects men over the age of 40.
With fears that the cancer could reach his brain and spinal cord, Stephen went under the knife that July.
He said: "When I woke up, I had no teeth, top palate or nose because they saw the cancer was attacking my palate and gums. And they removed my teeth anticipating that the radiotherapy treatment later on would destroy the enamel and they would rot away. I couldn't speak because my teeth had gone.
"The cancer had been discovered in my nasal cavity. It had gone under my right eye and worked its way to my nose. It got into the fleshy part of my nose above my teeth, and was working its way to the back of my head, but had stopped between the spinal column and brain.
"I had this big blood plaster stapled onto my face. It looked like a creature from the film Alien and I just burst into tears.
"When my daughter showed me my face I just thought, 'There goes my life. I'm going to be the scariest person walking the streets. People will think I'm a monster'.
"I was also worried in case they hadn't got all the cancer out. I wanted to survive to see my grandchildren grow up."
With the cancer now under control, the flesh around Stephen's nose eventually started to heal properly, and in October 2015 he was told that, although there was still a small bit of cancer between his brain and spinal cord, it was benign.
However, Stephen was left with a gaping hole in his face, no teeth and unable to see properly, as he could not wear glasses and finds contact lenses uncomfortable.
Now he's also only able to eat soft food like mashed potato, soup and casseroles, with everything chopped into small pieces, having been fitted with a new palate and a top set of dentures.
Unable to get laser eye surgery on the NHS, as he says he does not meet the requirements, Stephen has had to dip into his pension pot to pay for it - successfully having his right eye done last month, at a cost of £3,795.
He anticipates he may need his left eye, the stronger one, done in the future.
Stephen said: "An optician was sent to see me provided me with glasses that fitted like ski goggles, but air would come out of the hole in my nose and steam them up all the time. It just didn't work. When I walked they would slip down my face.
"But the laser eye surgery has improved my life 100 per cent. I just wish it could have happened four years ago.
"I can walk across the road without fearing I'm going to be run over."
Despite the improvements that have been made since May 2015, Stephen - who is separated - said his confidence sadly remains at rock bottom.
"I'm not working now and I have no self-esteem," he said.
"If I have a doctor's appointment I try to go either in the evening or early in the morning when it's still dark, so I'm less likely to bump into people.
"I used to go and visit my grandchildren on the train, but I haven't done that for years because I'm scared to be near all the people.
"Mums with prams will steer their buggies away from me. I look at people and they will cross the road. It's soul-destroying.
"Now I would just like to find love. I want to find a girlfriend who will love me like I would love her.
"I think once I have my new nose I will feel more confident to go out and meet someone.
"I used to go to the pub and see friends, but over the last five years that's gone down the toilet. I just want to be treated like a decent human being."
Family members are now trying to raise money via GoFundMe to help Stephen get back on his feet and pay for any remaining work he may need doing, as well as to buy him a car, so he can visit them and have a social life.
To donate visit a GoFundMe page for Stephen here.
Featured Image Credit: PA Real Life