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Facial prosthetic delayed by complications

Ida Guarascia now looking to late spring for new face

By Katherine Grant

It has been a long struggle and it isn’t over yet.

Ida Guarascia, the Beamsville woman who underwent surgery last March to remove her right eye, her nose and a large portion of the right side of her face, is at home recovering from a second operation.

The surgery was supposed to have sculpted her new face to prepare it for a prosthetic eye and nose but complications have left her in a holding pattern for several more months.

The good news is the many small tissue samples taken during the operation came back clear – there is no sign of the basal cell skin cancer that destroyed her face.

“It has been a rough year,” says Ida, quietly.

During the most recent operation, her scalp had to be lifted, moved forward and attached to the patch over her face. This necessitated another skin graft from her leg to the back of her head. A breathing tube was inserted and some plastic surgery was done to improve her line of vision by reducing the thickness of the large pouch of skin covering her face.

“The eye surgeon straightened it as much as he could, so I can see a wider range,” she said, adding the problem is she can’t wear her glasses so she still can’t drive or even read.

Ida has been told her case is unusual because of the extensive area affected by the cancer so doctors are taking it a step at a time and, while she remains grateful for the care she is receiving, it is taking an emotional and physical toll on her.

The delay of the prosthetic from January to possibly April or May was a real blow, on top of the need for more surgery and her limited mobility.

“I feel like a guinea pig,” she said, adding she often finds herself in tears.

As she is able to do so little she is feeling helpless, housebound and just wants something to which she can look forward.

There have been, however, a few bright spots over the past few months.

Although there are times when people are still cruel to her because of her appearance, there are those who go out of their way to be kind.

“The Sobeys (store) in Beamsville has been just wonderful,” she said. “Every single staff member says hello to me and asks how I am doing; they are so nice.”

Although there are days she gives in to the tears, she hasn’t lost her fighting spirit. On a recent follow-up visit to one of her doctors, she told him he wasn’t allowed to take anything else.

“They can’t take my fingers, my toes, my ears, no more body parts,” she said adding she enjoys teasing him. She had to undergo a procedure in his office in which he put a pair of scissors into her throat to trim her breathing tube.

“He said he was proud of me and that made me feel better,” she said.

She and her husband, Randy have a meeting with her team of doctors on Jan. 9 to talk about the next steps.

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