Tumour found growing behind man’s eye after only symptom was watery eye
A cancer survivor says he sees a face from a horror movie when he looks in the mirror, after the removal of a tumour left him with a ‘huge’ hole in his face.
Daniel Jackson, 43, from Margate, Kent, was 34 when he began to feel a persistent irritation in his eye.
Thinking nothing of it, he continued on with his daily routines.
Two months later, after persistent watering in the same eye, Daniel finally saw his GP, who, unsure of the cause, prescribed him eye drops and antibiotics.
However, nothing seemed to help.
Eventually, once all other options had been exhausted, Daniel was sent for a scan.
The doctors found a large tumour growing behind his eye. Daniel had developed cancer of the ethmoid sinus, and the watering eye was caused by the tumour pushing against his eye.
Before he had a chance to come to terms with his diagnosis, he was informed that he had an opportunity for survival – but his eye would have to be removed.
Daniel was willing to do whatever it took to recover.
However, radiotherapy, combined with the fresh wounds from surgery, caused massive damage to Daniel’s face.
Before his facial reconstruction, the removal of the tumour had caused a gaping hole in his face that he struggled to look at. Not only had the doctors been forced to remove his eye, they also removed extra tissue from around the area, causing his face to be hollowed out to the point where he could see his tongue.
Extensive reconstructive surgeries had closed the open hole on his face, but left Daniel with severe facial scarring.
Now Daniel uses his experience to campaign to raise awareness for people with facial differences. He works with several charities to highlight poor representation of people with facial scarring and wants to increase acceptance for people who look different.
“According to Cancer Research UK, one in two of us will be affected by cancer within our lifetime,” said Daniel.
“My story with cancer started when I was thirty-four.
“They say you should always see your GP if you feel there is something not quite right, and I was a young strong male who frankly didn’t have the patience to see my GP about my irritated eye.
“A simple everyday body defect which normally clears up on its own continued for some time, until I did, only on reflection do I feel there may have been a chance to avoid the consequences, but I will never know.
“What I can tell you was my utter disbelief when some months later I was sat in the hospital being shown the scan results which showed a huge tumour which was growing inside my face.
“I came to find the answers as to why my innocent watery eye was not stopping, instead I left a dead man walking.
“My cancer was located in one of my sinuses, buried within the face. It was allowed to grow without check. My watering eye was the only symptom caused by the growth pushing from behind the eye.
“I waited for my verdict. They could operate, but the eye would have to go.
“I was willing to do whatever it took.
“If you can imagine anything as sinister as facial cancer then you must understand disfigurement. I am now disfigured by any measure. When I look in the mirror it is no longer my face that I see, It is a face you see in horror movies.
“Radiotherapy had a devastating effect on the soft tender skin on my face, and slowly the stitched-up areas opened back up and I was left with a huge hole in my face.
“This hole was unlike anything you could imagine because they did not simply remove the eye, they took the huge tumour and everything around it as well.
“My face had been hollowed out to the extreme that I could look in a mirror and see my tongue moving.
Daniel asked for a “drastic” reconstruction, in the hopes of getting his life back. And after his reconstruction, he was left wondering what he could do to rewrite his story.
He has since started working with UK charity Changing Faces, to combat the stigma around people with facial scarring in the media. Their ‘I Am Not Your Villain’ campaign is against representing villains as people with facial disfigurements.
He also works with the Scar Free Foundation, a charity aiming to aid research into scar treatment and one that hopes to achieve “scar-free healing within a generation”.
“In 2017 I was featured on the front cover of “Disfigurement in the UK” produced by the charity Changing Faces and continued to work with them on projects which help support people who have a different face,” Daniel said.
“Their latest campaign “I am not your villain” challenges the movie and media industry because they continue to portray the villains with facial scars or disfigurements.
“Many people will dismiss this as simply part of the story, the world gone mad, but the reality is for people with disfigurements is that this is the association that they have to live with.
“An amazing future awaits our next generation if we learn to be kind, non-judgemental, and accepting of differences.
“I am now happy with the way I look. I have made peace with the fact I can never look the way I once did, but I won’t let it stop me living my second chance of life.”