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Brave mum Toni Crews from Deal says she will not hide her cancer scars

A mum whose head and facial scars are the result of cancer in her tear gland says she is showing them off because they're the reason she's alive.

Toni Crews who had her eye removed after her first diagnosis of adenocarcinoma in 2016 feels she must no longer hide behind her blingy eye patches.

And after major surgery to remove a second mass last month, she's now shaved off her hair revealing a 12 inch scar across her head.

Toni Crews talks about why she has revealed her scars

She told KentOnline: "People have said to me why would you shave your hair off, you won't be able to hide your scar.

"I said my scars are what have enabled me to survive, why should I hide them?"

Miss Crews, from Deal, noticed her eye was continually puffy in May 2016 which prompted her to visit an optician, who picked up an abnormality which turned out to be cancer.

The former Castle Community College pupil took doctors' advice to undergo a full orbital exenteration – removal of the eyeball and the surrounding tissue such as her eyelid and muscles - to give her the best chance of survival.

Toni Crews, 29, is showing of her scars(7112558)
Toni Crews, 29, is showing of her scars(7112558)
Toni Crews, pictured in 2016, when she noticed her eye was puffy prompting her to visit the opticians
Toni Crews, pictured in 2016, when she noticed her eye was puffy prompting her to visit the opticians

Two years passed and she had just got used to a prosthetic eye - and sometimes wearing no cover up at all - when she developed a pain behind the socket.

It wasn't until four months later in November 2018 that doctors agreed to send her for a scan which uncovered a "cherry tomato sized" tumour - considerably bigger than her previous cancer which was contained within the tear gland which is approximately the size of an almond.

She had to wait seven weeks for surgery and resorted to taking morphine daily to combat the pain.

She said: "It started eroding the bone. The pain was so bad it was waking me up in the night.

"I was on co-codamol and ibuprofen four times a day and morphine for the last few weeks.

"It was worse than giving birth to my children. The worst pain I've ever experienced."

Toni Crews from Deal after her major surgery in January
Toni Crews from Deal after her major surgery in January
High spirits: Mum of two Toni Crews says her scars are the reason she's alive (7112490)
High spirits: Mum of two Toni Crews says her scars are the reason she's alive (7112490)

Miss Crews underwent a five-hour craniofacial resection at London's Charing Cross Hospital last month.

During the procedure surgeons removed the cancer, surrounding soft tissue and affected bone.

They also took a skin graft from her leg to place over the socket and moved muscle to help support her cheek.

She's left with a scar from ear to ear, initially held together by 34 staples plus stitches.

Toni Crews is left with a scar across her head - but she's happy to show it off (7112444)
Toni Crews is left with a scar across her head - but she's happy to show it off (7112444)

Next month she will begin six weeks of radiotherapy - five days a week.

The mum to Charlie, seven, and Faith, six, said: "Life is more important than looks.

"I think the first few weeks are always difficult. Everything feels very up in the air.

"You don't know what it is and where it's gone until you get the full scan results.

"My type of cancer is chemotherapy resistant so it can only be removed by surgery, so if it's somewhere inoperable, it could be fatal.

"Once you get the scan results, as a mum, you just do what you've got to do."

Remaining practical, Miss Crews had one more thing in mind.

After the op, her vibrant red bob-length hair was an added stress she could do without.

She said: "It was a horrid matted mess.

"The easiest way to sort it out was just to cut it off. I said to my friend, 'Why don't I brave the shave for Cancer Research?'

"I thought what better than to cut it all off and raise money at the same time. A win win situation!

"So I did it. It's in memory of everyone who has fought or is fighting."

Toni Crews with her bobbed red hair before surgery
Toni Crews with her bobbed red hair before surgery

For Miss Crews who says she is "terrible" for always experimenting with her hair, it's just a new style she's yet to try.

She set up a donation page from her hospital bed which raised £300 before she even arrived home and a friend shaved it for her, last Monday.

The page has now raised almost £700 and Miss Crews plans to keep it live for another two months until the end of her radiotherapy.

She still runs her small home-business Bling-k of an Eye, selling medical grade patches which she's decorated with rhinestones, swarovski crystals, fabric and fabric paints, but feels she doesn't always have to wear them herself.

Toni Crews still makes her blingy eye patches but no longer feels like she must wear one
Toni Crews still makes her blingy eye patches but no longer feels like she must wear one

She said: "I was self conscious [not wearing one] at first but where I've had so many complements, it's built my confidence up."

She continues to raise awareness of the signs of adenocarcinoma which include puffiness around the eye, blurred vision and headaches.

You can sponsor Toni here.

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