By Josh Saunders
A cancer survivor father fights on after defying a ‘six months to live’ prognosis and the deadly tumours that tore out his nose, cheek and eye.
Sylvain Pharand, from Montreal, Quebec, Canada, was devastated after it was revealed the cyst in his left nostril was sinus and lymph node cancer.
Despite the deadly warning, the determined dad fought for his life in a gruelling decade-long battle that would result in the loss of his nostril then full nose, cheek and eye removed.
He’s estimated to have had 125 radiotherapy sessions and one week of targeted brachytherapy, lasting until last year, when no more cancerous tumours were found.
Skin grafts were applied to cover the large hole in the centre of his face after numerous tumour extractions, which would later require denture to allow him to eat.
He was fitted with a facial prosthetic two-years-ago, but the heavy piece held on with glue regularly falls-off causing him to feel uncomfortable in public and ostracised.
Suffering the stares of strangers and even people pointing at him, has left Sylvain preferring to stay at home until a new prosthetic is made that will be held on with magnets.
Now the 55-year-old is fundraising for a hair transplant, to cover the costs of treatment and to fulfil his dream to take wife Marie- Josée Fréchette, 50, and son Sebastien, 21, on a holiday to Hawaii to celebrate being cancer-free.
Sylvain said: “I had a cyst in the left nostril, which I wanted to get removed as it was uncomfortable when breathing.
“After being told I had six months to live I was devastated at the time, however I’ve always been a fighter and I decided to fight and live instead of letting it kill me.
“As they could not give me anymore radiotherapy treatments, they had to go with operations.
“My left nostril was first removed in 2010. They rebuilt it using skin from my forehead, then a new tumor appeared on the exterior of the rebuilt portion.
“The whole nose was removed in 2012. Another tumor appeared inside the hole close to my eye. At that point they had to remove my left cheek and eye, that was in 2014.
“Based on my scans and tests for the last three years, no more tumors were found, I am currently at the state of rebuilding my cheek and eye with skin from my legs and an artificial prosthesis.
“At first, everything went well. However, the prosthetic was heavier than they thought and it did not hold well with glue.
“They are currently working on a different method to have it hold in place, probably with magnets or screws. They are not 100% sure how they will proceed still at the moment.
“Some people are very kind and understanding, however some constantly stare at me, making me feel uncomfortable to a point where I sometimes don’t want to go out.
“As radiotherapy stopped the growth of my hair on the left side of my head, I am mainly fundraising to get hair transplant, which is not covered by the public health care system in Canada.
“It would also help me for all the expenses it cost over the years.”
Sylvain was diagnosed with the deadly cancers on the day of his wedding anniversary to wife Marie- Josée in 2008.
He said: “For me it was more like circles on pictures. I knew it wasn’t normal, but I wasn’t able to tell how dangerous or advanced the tumor was.”
Due to breathing difficulties, he had his left nostril removed in 2010, but the skin grafted from his head would need to be removed as a further tumour was spotted.
It required the full removal of his nose and by 2014, his left eye and cheek.
Sylvain said: “After that, I had my last surgery to put a skin flap to hide my face, they took the skin of my left thigh and put it in my face to cover all the left of my face.
“The operation last 12 hours and was a success. They needed to take the skin of my leg because the needed skin that was alive instead of that it wouldn’t work.”
Sylvain’s life was altered after having dentures fitted allowing him to eat and a facial prosthetic, although he hopes for one that will stick on his face.
He added: “Before the prosthetic, I had to wear a bandage covering the hole, which was not aesthetic at all and was irritating my skin.
“As for the dentures, I was very limited in what I could eat before them. Sometimes I had to put my food in the blender in order to eat in a balanced manner.”
Sylvain was fitted with a facial prosthetic two-years-ago, but it’s hoped a better one will be produced as the current piece struggles to stick to his face.
Since finishing radiotherapy treatment last year, he hopes to move on with his life and is fundraising for a hair transplant.
He said: “Today, ten years later, I have no trace of cancer, but the road has been a rollercoaster.
“I wish I could have a hair transplant, I lost all my hair in the front because of the radiotherapy and brachytherapy.
“Also, after being unable to travel during these ten years of combat with cancer, because it was too risky to catch a virus or bacteria.
“I would like to fulfil my dream of going to Hawaii with my family.”
You can donate at: www.gofundme.com/xsu2y-je-veux-retrouver-ma-dignite