Li Hongfang, whose face in the left picture was severely disfigured by 7 large tumors, is transformed in the picture on the right after a hospital carried out the surgery for free. (Photo by Rex Features)
A 40-year-old Chinese mother-of-two who was left horribly disfigured by 70 tumors that have been steadily growing on her face for the last ten years can live happily in society again after doctors performed her much needed surgery for free.
Li Hongfang, who had lived as a pariah in her community for nearly a decade because she was too poor to treat her Chordoma, she was forced to endure watching the rare bone cancer gradually take over her face, mutating and stretching her features in disproportionate measures.
However, after her predicament was heard by many around the world, a hospital in Xi'an, capital of northwest China's Shaanxi Province, offered to carry out the surgery, which normally costs $94,000, for no cost, according to the Daily Mail.
Li, who works as a farmer from Tianchao village, Xianyang, in northwest China's Shaanxi Province, said she still hadn't properly examined herself in the mirror.
"I feel my head is lighter, and I must look better. I want to save the big time to the time when the surgery swelling goes down. It could be the best gift to me," she said, according to the Mail.
While Li's surgery had been very successful, doctors say that she will have to go under surgery again to remove tumors in her skull, nasal cavities and throat.
"I am so grateful to the people who made this happen," Li had reportedly said before she went in for her operation. "I just want to look normal again, like I feel inside. I'm not a monster and I don't want to look like one."
Li's trouble started in 2001 when she noticed a small swollen spot on her forehead which she had initially ignored because it was not painful, but four years later when she was finally diagnosed, doctors informed her that she had seven tumors growing on her face.
However, because she could not pay the 600,000 yuan ($94,000) medical bill, she has been forced to watch them slowly swell and take over her face.
"I know that a lot of people see me as a monster but I am just a normal woman and a mother inside," the mother of a 17-year-old and a 14-year-old son said, according to the Daily Mail.
She had been living with her husband and two sons in Tianchao village, in Qianxian county, in west China’s Shaanxi province when she was diagnosed.
"We didn't have much money but we were very happy and we loved each other and our two boys. I would say life was good then," Li said. "I didn't think anything of it when I got a small swelling on my forehead – I thought it was probably just an insect bite. It didn't even itch or ache in anyway – but it also didn't go away and in fact just got bigger and bigger."
About 300 Chordoma patients are diagnosed in the U.S. each year, according to the National Cancer Institute, and western countries a patient would have the tumor removed and then given high doses of radiation therapy.
Li had checked into surgery in the beginning of July and she was released from hospital last week.