A teenager who developed a tumor when he was 11 that would eventually swallow his entire face has finally received life-saving surgery, allowing him to breathe easier and open his eyes. (Warning: The photos below are graphic.)
Kambou Sie, also known as Prosper, had the tumor for years because his family was too poor to afford treatment, according to the Daily Mail.
Prosper, now 17, was abandoned by his mother after he developed the tumor because she "couldn't cope" with his disfigurement.
"When I became ill, everyone said that I would not be healed or loved, so she stopped caring about me and looked after her other children instead," he said. "When the disease got worse, everybody left me. My father was the only one who looked after me."
As Prosper's tumor grew, it slowly covered his entire face, forcing his eyes shut and blocking his mouth, making breathing difficult.
"People said I was some kind of monster, saying that maybe it was something I had eaten which made me like this, but my cheeks just kept getting bigger and bigger," he said.
Unable to afford treatment, Prosper's father reached out to a charity to help his son.
A nun from the Liliane Foundation, a charity that helps treat diseases in developing countries, agreed to help Prosper get the care he needed.
Working with Italian charity A Voice For Padre Pio, the Liliane Foundation was able to fly Prosper from his hometown of Bondoukou in the Ivory Coast to a hospital in Naples, Italy.
Doctors at the hospital diagnosed Prosper with Burkitt lymphoma, a type of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.
This type of cancer is caused when the body produces too many white blood cells, according to the Mayo Clinic. Older white blood cells don't die off as they're supposed to so the body continues to make more, resulting in swelling.
Burkitt lymphoma is specifically related to B cells. B cells produce antibodies to fight infections in the body.
"The prognosis we are expecting to see is that, we are dealing with a cancerous tumor," said Dr. Ferdinando Frigeri, according to the Daily Mail. "The most different aspect we've noticed is that the rate of speed of growth is much slower than one normally associated with Burkitt lymphoma."
The slower growth of Prosper's tumor is what has allowed him to survive this long.
Before starting treatment, Prosper said he wants to be cured "even if I have to suffer first."
Months of chemotherapy, radiotherapy and stem cell replacement have significantly reduced Prosper's tumor.
He has even received an apology from his mother for abandoning him as a child.
"I have nearly finished my chemotherapy and everything has deflated. My face is much better," he said.
When his chemotherapy is finished, Prosper plans to have surgery to remove the dead tissue from his face.