Mother of two looking like a monster begs the world for help

Published On: Friday, December 21, 2012 2:30 AM
By: David Ross
Li Hongfang
A mother of two Chinese children has been disfigured by tumors that have grown up in her face during the last ten years.

Li Hongfang, 40, is rejected in public because of the rare disease that caused her face to swell slowly.

She has been unable to obtain medical treatment for chordoma because she can’t afford it. The disease is a form of bone cancer that causes the tissue to grow.

The problem began in 2001 when she noticed a small patch of swelling on the forehead, which she initially ignored because it was not painful.

When her condition was finally diagnosed, four years later, doctors said she had seven tumors that grew on her face. But she has been unable to pay the £60,000 or 600,000 yuan medical bill and was forced to watch them grow slowly.

The mother said: "I know people see me as a monster, but I'm just a normal woman and a mother at home."

When she was diagnosed, she lived with her husband and two children in the village of Tianchao in Qianxian county in Shaanxi, western province of China.

She said: "We did not have a lot of money, but we were very happy and we loved each other and our two children. I would say that life was good then".

"I did not think of anything when I saw a small swelling on the forehead I thought it was probably just an insect bite", she said. "It did not even itch or hurt in anyway but did not disappear and in fact just got bigger and bigger."

In China, health care has disintegrated in recent decades when the old state system was dismantled and presented the public with medical fees.

Many cannot access health care or do not afford it and many of the 700 million people in the suburban area have to travel to cities to get decent care.

The authorities are discussing a program that aims to provide health insurance for all its 1.3 billion citizens by 2020, but at this time the Chinese health system falls far behind the needs of the people.