Hello everyone, a warm welcome to 2015. Hard to believe its the second month of the year already!
This month we want to share some stories and insights about an aspect of life with a prosthetic nose to help those going through the process themselves or facing the possibility.
2014 saw our Prosthetic Art Technology division being extremely nosey. Possibly due to the increasing rate of head and neck cancer occurring across Australia and the world, sadly the number of rhinectomies (removal of the nose) as a life saving measure against cancer are increasing.
After going through the surgery and recovery process, coming to terms with the loss of a nose is understandably a huge adjustment to make in regards to self perception and body awareness. The idea of facing new romantic relationships or even navigating through old ones can be extremely daunting when dealing with a newly acquired facial difference.
We have been very privileged to hear some wonderful stories about these relationships from a few people we make noses for. A big thanks to two couples that have allowed us to share their story of life, love, and loss here in the hope of lifting some spirits for others going through this difficult time themselves.
Frank and Gail
Frank overcame a battle with skin cancer in 2012 at the age of 70. He won the fight but not without sacrificing his nose in the process. We met Frank in 2013 when he was ready to have a prosthetic nose made, and like most people the whole process was new and a bit daunting. Single at the time, Frank went through the experience with the loving support of his family.
A few years on Frank is now an expert at wearing a prosthetic in daily life. At a recent appointment to make a new nose we had the pleasure of meeting Franks new partner Gail and heard their wonderful story.
Frank: Losing my nose made me feel uncomfortable and self conscious. I didn't like people looking at me and didn't like going out in public. My prosthetic made such a difference to my life and I am comfortable with myself now.
I met Gail at the R.S.L. raffles, I would speak to Gail when I passed her house out walking. We didn't know each other before I had been through cancer so it wasn't easy telling her about my nose loss.
Gail: Not long after I met Frank I thought that he had a cut on the side of his nose and I asked him what it was. He said "I don't have a nose", I said "wow what a great nose!". There was no negative reaction from me about that at all.
I like Frank because Frank is Frank! What you see is what you get and when you meet him there are no little secrets. The fact that Frank has no nose and wears a prosthetic doesn't restrict what we do in life together.
Missing body parts aren't really a thing we worry about. Just live your life and love it, take each moment as it comes and if you are feeling really sad pick a flower or look at a bird and think "Isn't that beautiful".
Frank: My advice to any one going through a similar experience is to remember things WILL get better, enjoy your life and focus on the things that make you happy.
Andrew and Jen
Andrew and Jen had only been together a short time before facing Andrews battle together. Like Frank, Andrew lost his entire nose in order to completely remove the cancer. This experience is difficult one for anybody to face and going through it as a new couple can give a whole extra dimension of stress and worry. For Andrew and Jen though, coming through it has brought them closer together.
Jen: We had only just met when Andrew became ill. It was scary, it's a big thing to take in but if you really care for somebody you stick around.
Andrew: You lose sight of everything for a minute and can only focus on what is happening to you. The radiotherapy was the most difficult aspect for me. To go through all that with Jen though answered a question in my mind and I thought "she must love me!".
Jen: Watching him go through all of that and the uncertainty of what was happening with his nose was the most difficult part. The best thing though was that it probably brought us closer together.
Andrew: Getting on with life after the illness and the experience of losing my nose is difficult, I still think about it but I try hard not to. If it comes up I just think "that's it" - you can't turn back time. I'm looking forward to getting back into surfing. The biggest hurdle is figuring out ways of getting back into things I have left behind until now.
Jen: I don't even notice now. When Andrew has his prosthetic off and is just walking around inside it's just completely normal to me - it's not a drama. He is through that experience now, hopefully he is over the cancer as well and we can just enjoy life together.
Andrew: For any one going through the experience my advice is exactly what the doctors said to me: It's just time. Talking to people in the same situation is great. The radiation is very hard and can affect your mood.
Jen: It's important not to take things personally and give yourself space as a partner. Its a hard experience to deal with and trying to be positive and upbeat for the other person can be difficult. For both of you, talking to a psychologist is a really good thing to do. You will have times where you want to go off and cry - it's a good release.
Andrew: If you are someone facing this, give yourself time to get through the experience and things will get better. When you get your prosthetic and walk down the street it's great, but the whole thing is a process - you just need time.
A huge thank you to Frank and Gail, and Andrew and Jen for allowing us to share their photos and words.