A 40-year-old Chinese mother, left disfigured by tumors growing on her face over the course of a decade, is appealing to the community to help her find a solution to the condition that has blighted her appearance.
Li Hongfang, a mother of two, lives as a pariah in her community due to the seven tumors that have caused her face to grow to gruesome proportions. The condition, Chordoma, is a bone cancer that causes tissues to grow, causing tumors around the base of the skull and along the spine. Li’s condition started in 2001, when she noticed a small, painful bump on her forehead. She ignored it at first, and was diagnosed with Chordoma four years later, when doctors told her she had seven tumors growing on her face. Unable to pay the 600,000 yuan ($94,000) for medical treatment, she has watched in horror as her face became slowly disfigured ever since. She has been shunned in her community for her disfigurement, and the cost of treatment keeps rising the longer she is unable to afford it.
“I know that a lot of people see me as a monster but I am just a normal woman and a mother inside,” said Li, according to Daily Mail.
Li was living with her husband and two sons in Tianchao village, in west China’s Shaanxi province when she was diagnosed: “We didn’t have much money but we were very happy and we loved each other and our two boys. I would say life was good then,” Li said. “I didn’t think anything of it when I got a small swelling on my forehead – I thought it was probably just an insect bite. It didn’t even itch or ache in anyway – but it also didn’t go away and in fact just got bigger and bigger.”
Her first husband passed away shortly after her diagnosis, leaving her to beg on the streets to feed her family. Completely alone once her children left home for work, she met second husband, Guo Yingping, in 2009. Himself an orphan, they bonded over mutual ostracism. Due to China’s difficult healthcare system, she would have to pay for her operations out of pocket, a price tag far beyond her means.
What’s worse, the cancer has begun to spread to her body.
Though thousands have sent her encouraging notes since her story hit the media, what she really needs is a benefactor to fund an operation.
Though China is trying to reform their healthcare system by 2020, it falls short of helping its citizens day to day.
Roughly 300 Chordoma patients are diagnosed in the U.S. each year, according to the National Cancer Institute. Here, a patient would have the tumor removed and undergo a rigorous schedule of radiation therapy.
Our thoughts and prayers to Li Hongfang, who will hopefully catch a break soon with all the attention her story is getting.