Alberta cancer patient left with hole in face

Cancer surgeries have left David Whenham with a hole in his face. (David Bloom/QMI Agency)

Cancer surgeries have left David Whenham with a hole in his face. (David Bloom/QMI Agency)

Kevin Maimann, Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 7:56 AM ET

EDMONTON -- In 2012, David Whenham was the poster boy for a new surgery to replace the teeth he lost when a tumour was removed from his face.

Two years later, he has a multitude of health problems that have gone largely unaddressed by the health care system that held him up as a crowning achievement for Swiss doctor Dennis Rohner’s groundbreaking surgery.

Whenham has a large hole next to his right eye that he has to stuff with gauze every morning. He also has holes in his mouth, and one has become cancerous. He has suffered numerous infections since his 2012 surgery — he stopped counting after 15.

The reconstructive surgeries officials promised him are still unfulfilled.

“Every one of them indicated that they can solve this, and that I would be as good as new at the end of it,” Whenham said. “Well, I guess they were exaggerating to some extent.”

Whenham, age 64, is unable to work. His wife, who is a caregiver, has put her life on hold since he was first diagnosed with cancer six years ago.

The couple lives on an acreage in Pigeon Lake, where they don’t have fast access to stores or medical facilities. Before the 2012 surgery gave him new hope, Whenham had faced a similar situation waiting for three years without upper teeth after having a tumour removed.

“I and my family are getting quite irate. This is just ridiculous,” he said. “We’ve been waiting all this time to do something, to have a promise kept, and it isn’t being done.”

His sinuses were removed during his initial cancer treatment and his right eye has since stopped functioning. He also lost the bridge of his nose, which requires a separate surgery.


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