A British mother had surgery to remove half of her face after doctors misdiagnosed her cancer as being a mere fever.
Jannine McHaffie, 25, of Chelmsford, Essex, was diagnosed with a rare cancer called adenoids cystic carcinoma -- or ACC -- 10 months after complaining to her doctor about nosebleeds, the Daily Mirror reported.
"What started out as a few heavy nosebleeds turned out to be the most horrifying journey of my life,” McHaffie said. "I went to my GP who said it was hay fever and there wasn't a lot he could do about it.”
By January, McHaffie’s nose had gotten so big she had trouble breathing. She was diagnosed with ACC in February after doctors found a tumor the size of a strawberry in her nose.
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McHaffie recounted the traumatic experiences that followed the diagnosis:
"After 10 months I was finally diagnosed with ACC, I was terrified, I've never heard of anything like it.
"I was sat down as surgeons told me they had to remove most of my upper mouth which would be mainly reconstructed by using the fibula bone in my right leg. I took a deep breath and put on a brave smile, I knew it had to be done.
"I just kept thinking about my daughter Leylah, 3, I wanted them to do whatever it took to save me as I don't want to miss a second of her growing up.
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"I've been back home recovering for three week [sic] now and a few days ago I finally walked again for the first time with no crutches.
"I've still got radiotherapy to face yet once my mouth and face has healed but I know I'll smash that after going through all of this."
ACC is a rare form of cancer that affects the salivary glands. Surgeons carried out the complex 13-hour procedure on May 26. They removed McHaffie’s pallet bone, parts of her cheekbone, her upper teeth and her top right jaw. She still has two procedures to go.
McHaffie explained the life-changing surgeries that she endured:
"I was sedated for three days whilst I underwent three different operations. After the first one surgeons knew that something wasn't quite right with the roof of my mouth and the blood flow.
"I needed the blood flow into my mouth increased as I kept getting blood clots.
"I was extremely lucky to be referred to the Royal Marsden Hospital, I instantly felt in good hands and they've been fantastic.
"I finally came round on the Saturday and kept in CCU for a few more days and then intensive care for one day then onto a ward and finally I went home on the Friday.
"It was a bit early but I was missing my daughter like crazy and wanted to recover at home."
The procedures were a success. McHaffie says she is thankful for the support she’s received from her family and friends throughout it all.
"My [3-year-old daughter] has been my main focus to get through everything, little does she know she's getting mummy through every day,” she said. "I couldn't have got through this without the help of my parents, their partners and my wonderful boyfriend Chris.
"He was diagnosed with testicular cancer two years ago but is now thankfully in remission, it's just crazy how a young couple can both end up with such awful diseases."
McHaffie added that she will "fight this every step of the way."
A GoFundMe page has been set up to help support McHaffie during her recovery. In her last update, she said she one final operation scheduled for July 6 to have a plate put in her mouth. She joked that after all the procedures she's had, she will be immune to general anasthetic.
Photo Credit: GoFundMe, WikiCommons