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Cancer survivor had face rebuilt by doctors after losing eye and jaw

A man had his face rebuilt after a rare form of eye cancer caused him to lose his left eye and jaw, Cambridge News reported.  He will appear on prime-time television in the U.K. Thursday night to tell his story.

Josh Stephenson, a former luxury goods designer living in Huntingdon, England, was diagnosed with malignant orbital melanoma in October 2009.  At first, he thought he had hay fever when the skin around his eye became itchy. When his eyelid became much more swollen, he sought out a specialist.  According to his doctors, Stephenson may have had a cancerous freckle that had been on the back of his eyeball since he was born.  It had been growing into a cancerous tumor his entire life.

Though he was treated with radiotherapy, the cancer had already spread to his face.  Stephenson ended up having his eye, upper left jaw and part of the roof of his mouth removed, Cambridge News reported.

According to Stephenson, the cancer didn’t just damage his face.

“I not only lost my jaw and eye, which was upsetting enough, but I also lost my income after the diagnosis,” Stephenson told Cambridge News. “It left me out of work, and I received no benefits.”

Iain Hutchinson, chief executive and founder of the charity Saving Faces, was a major player in helping to rebuild Stephenson’s face.  In two full-day surgeries, Hutchinson and surgeons used parts of Stephenson’s thigh muscle and shoulder blade to help shape the missing pieces in his face.

Now, Stephenson will appear on an ‘Embarrassing Bodies’ cancer special in the U.K. to talk about his story.  The event is meant to help raise awareness for the U.K.’s Stand Up To Cancer campaign, according to Cambridge News.  Stephenson said that he wants everyone to fight back against the disease by raising money for cancer research.

“I would like to thanks my GP Dr. Duncan Blake, Professor Ian Hutchinson, surgeon David Harding-Verity, dentist Andrew Darwood and all my family and friends for their support,” Stephenson added. “Without them I don’t know what I would have done.”

Click for more from Cambridge News.