Avatar photo

By Citizen Reporter

Journalist


Pretoria resident’s lip tumour finally removed

Clara van Heerden's cold sore, which turned out to be lip cancer and has caused pain and suffering for years, has finally been removed. WARNING: Graphic content and images.


A woman from the west of Pretoria, whose “cold sore” turned out to be lip cancer, had the tumour successfully removed over the weekend, reports Pretoria Moot Rekord.

The 16-hour-long operation removed two kilogrammes of cancer growth.

“We are very relieved she could finally undergo her surgery and that it was a success,” said Hermanstad resident Clara van Heerden’s husband, Anton.

ALSO READ: Pretoria woman blames Steve Biko Hospital for lip cancer

The operation was done at a hospital in the east of Pretoria on Saturday.

It was performed thanks to Operation Healing Hands, a charity initiative created by a group of doctors who help patients who cannot afford surgery.

“They removed her jaw during the surgery and used bone from her lower leg to reconstruct an entire new jaw for Clara,” said Anton.

“The doctors also used skin from her forearm, which temporarily acts as a lip replacement.”

Anton said Clara was currently in ICU, where she would be for the next three to six months.

At the moment, Clara cannot feed herself. Instead, she is fed through a feeding tube.

“After she gets out of ICU, Clara will undergo radiation treatment for six weeks to make sure all the cancer is gone,” he said.

“They will start to reconstruct bottom teeth and lips for her after the radiation treatment.”

Anton said there was still a long road to recovery.

“After everything, Clara needs to relearn how to walk, eat, and talk again,” he said.

Any donations for her aftercare would be welcomed.

Pretoria Moot Rekord previously reported on how Clara was referred to the Steve Biko Academic hospital in June 2016 by her family doctor when a “cold sore” would not go away.

Clara van Heerden. Photo: Supplied

“The doctor said it looked like lip cancer, which was why he referred me to the hospital,” said Van Heerden.

She said the results of three biopsies and one computed tomography (CT) scan showed it was only an infection.

“However, after the third biopsy in July 2018, it started growing and getting worse,” Clara said.

The infection started on her lip in 2016. Photo: Supplied

Clara van Heerden before her cancer. Photo: Facebook

“The doctors then decided to treat it as cancer, but said they would have to cut my lips out,” she said.

“I immediately got up and walked out because I simply could not believe I was about to lose my lip because of a cold sore.”

For more news your way, download The Citizen’s app for iOS and Android.

Read more on these topics

Pretoria Steve Biko Hospital surgery