Published: 00:01, 27 July 2016
A man who was diagnosed with facial cancer on the same day his wife told him she was pregnant has told of his battle with the disease.
Dan Jackson, 38, of Ramsgate, endured around 20 surgical procedures including the removal of his right eye after a tumour was discovered.
Mr Jackson has a rare cancer of the ethmoid sinus - a small sinus located between the eye and the nose.
He believed he had a blocked tear duct after having a watery eye but was shocked to discover he had a tumour in 2012.
"We both got home and I said ‘I have something to tell you’ and she said ‘I have to tell you something too, you go first."
He also underwent radiotherapy and chemotherapy and his last procedure was two months ago.
Mr Jackson said: “Having facial cancer alters your identity in a profound and visual way. It changes the way you feel about yourself and changes how others look at you as well.
“There are various coping mechanisms to deal with that. I believe in friendship with others who have gone through something similar.
“The same day I was told it was a tumour, my wife Sue was told she was pregnant. We weren’t expecting for me to have anything.
“We both got home and I said ‘I have something to tell you’ and she said ‘I have to tell you something too, you go first.’
“I said ‘I have a tumour’ and she replied with ‘You cannot have a tumour because I’m pregnant’.”
Their son Harry was born on Christmas Day that year which is also Mr Jackson’s birthday.
He said: “That was an amazing gift amid everything that was going on.
“Having to go through such horrific surgery, being changed forever, undergoing radiotherapy and chemotherapy and having Sue by my side, the pregnancy too and whether I would even live through it was tough.”
Mr Jackson was speaking at a medical conference in London, hosted by the Scar Free Foundation.
"I know lots of people who cannot even leave the house because of scarring. It can be brutal and people cannot function in the same way"
The group are aiming to achieve scar-free healing within 30 years and say the treatment could be used for military injuries, burns or surgery.
Mr Jackson said: “The very idea that we are looking to be able to change the way people are affected by all manners of scarring is quite profound.
“I always think about a child being able to live a full and happy life without being limited by how they have been affected by facial scars of any type.
“Scar free healing is almost like something out of a sci-fi film. It is a vision for the future.
“I know lots of people who cannot even leave the house because of scarring. It can be brutal and people cannot function in the same way. It is not the aesthetic but the functional issues.
“People’s faces are destroyed by facial cancer. There are some amazing prosthesis but it is not the same as scar free healing.
“For me Scar Free Foundation is going on an amazing journey. It does almost seem like a make believe story but it is exciting.”
Plastic surgeons, NHS directors and university professors all gave talks on the foundation and the work they are aiming to achieve in the next three decades.
The conference was held at The Royal College of Surgeons of England in London.
More by this authorConnor Dunn