NEW LEASE ON LIFE: 13-pound tumor successfully removed from man's face
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Suffering from a rare disease, Stefan Zoleik of Slovakia had tumors swelling on his face, reducing him to a modern day "Elephant Man." The tumor on his face eventually grew to 13 pounds, and his swollen face would make startle people in the street who would then stop and stare. Happily surgeons have successfully removed the growth form his face and Zoleik can once again live a normal life.
"Everybody was turning and looking at me," Stefan Zoleik told journalists. "It was very unpleasant. It also bothered me all the time when I moved my head."
LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Called Madelung disease, fatty tumors grew on Zoleik's face. One tumor grew from ear to ear under his chin causing people to stop and stare at him in the street.
"Everybody was turning and looking at me," Zoleik told journalists. "It was very unpleasant. It also bothered me all the time when I moved my head."
Surgeon Igor Homola spent five hours cutting away the growth. Zoleik is more than happy with the results. "This is amazing, much better than it was before, which was horrible. I don't even feel any pain now," he says.
Zoleik's fate was much happier than that of Englishman Joseph Merrick, "The Elephant Man." Born normally, growths on his face and body during his childhood eventually rendered him as little more than a sideshow attraction.
Merrick died on 11 April 1890, aged 27. The official cause of death was asphyxia, although his surgeon patron Frederick Treves, who dissected the body, said that Merrick had died of a dislocated neck. He believed that Merrick, who had to sleep sitting up because of the weight of his head -- had been attempting to sleep lying down, to "be like other people."
The exact cause of Merrick's deformities is unclear. The dominant theory throughout much of the 20th century was that Merrick suffered from neurofibromatosis type I. In 1986, a new theory emerged that he had Proteus syndrome. It was later proposed that Merrick had suffered from a combination of neurofibromatosis type I and Proteus syndrome. DNA tests conducted on his hair and bones have proven inconclusive.
In 1979, Bernard Pomerance's play about Merrick called "The Elephant Man" debuted, and David Lynch's film, also called "The Elephant Man," was released the following year in 1980.
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