A boy who has been living with a cancerous tumour that engulfed his whole face leaving him struggling to breathe has had life-saving treatment.
Kambou Sie was abandoned by his mother who ‘couldn’t cope’ with his facial disfigurement.
Having suffered with the life-threatening condition since he was 11 years old, his father was too poor to afford help.
Left untreated, the lump grew to completely swallow up his face, blocking his mouth and forcing his eyes to close.
Now, thanks to the help of a charity, he has chemotherapy to reduce the tumour and is set to have cosmetic surgery to remove the dead tissue in his face.
Kambou, nicknamed Prosper, now 17, received an emotional message and apology from his estranged mother.
The teenager, from Bondoukou in the Ivory Coast, said: ‘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.
‘When I became ill, everyone said that I would not be healed or loved, so she [his mother]stopped caring about me and looked after her other children instead.
‘When the disease got worse, everybody left me. My father was the only one who looked after me.’
Desperate for help, Prosper’s father contacted Sister Claudine from the Liliane Foundation, a charity that specialises treating disabled children from developing countries.
The nun put the boy in contact with the Italian charity A Voice For Padre Pio, which provides social and medical support, and together they made an appeal video to receive help.
The charity flew him to Naples Pascale Hospital in Italy, to find the diagnosis he had been waiting six years for.
Prosper was told he had Burkitt lymphoma, a form of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
Speaking ahead of his treatment, Prosper said: ‘When people see me, they say they have never seen this disease on anyone else. I couldn’t carry on living.
‘I hope to be cured, even if I have to suffer first. The main thing I want to come from this is to get my cheeks sorted.’
Samples of tissue were removed from Propser’s face, to establish the cause of the disease and an appropriate treatment.
He was initially referred to the hospital with a tentative diagnosis of neurofibromatosis, however, doctors were surprised to find an incredibly rare form of cancer.
The disease attacks healthy cells that are working in the immune system. In most cases like Prosper’s, it would be fatal if left untreated.
Burkitt is known to be the fastest growing human tumour, but Prosper had lived this long because his appeared to be growing slower than usual.
Hermotologist Dr Ferdinando Frigeri said: ‘The prognosis we are expecting to see its that, we are dealing with a cancerous tumour.
‘The most difference aspect we’ve noticed is that the rate of speed of growth is much slower than one normally associated with burkitt lymphoma.’
Prosper underwent a combination of chemotherapy, radiotherapy, stem cell replacement to reduce the tumour.
And after months of aggressive treatment, scans showed that Propser’s facial swelling had reduced significant, even allowing his eyes to open.
He said: ‘At the start my face was so big, I couldn’t do anything. But not I thank God.
‘I have nearly finished my chemotherapy and everything has deflated. My face is much better.’