My story is not to be sniffed at! Cancer patient with magnetic nose and sense of humour surprises Holly and Phil by handing them his nose live on air
Bert Eastham, 64, had the prosthetic nose fitted last month after nasal cancer treatment
Prosthetic nose is held on to his face using magnets He appeared on the This Morning sofa with his wife to discuss how humour helped them survive the diagnosis
Joker passed it to the presenters live on air, asking Holly Willoughby to 'give it a wipe'
16:10 GMT, 4 September 2012
Bert Eastham was devastated when doctors found cancerous cells in his nose three years ago and he was faced with a choice between radiotherapy or face disfiguring surgery to remove a cancerous tumour.
The doctors recommended surgery as his best chance and so Mr Eastham, from Chorley, Lancashire, underwent an operation to remove his nose and top lip and six weeks ago he was fitted with a prosthetic nose made out of silicone and held onto his face using magnets.
Determined not to let his deformity bring him down Bert, who now has the all clear, has been using his wicked sense of humour to keep his spirits up, even using his magnetic nose as a fridge magnet to make sure he doesn't misplace it.
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Bert Eastham has been fitted with a magnetic nose following nasal surgery
Appearing on This Morning today with his wife Olwyn Bert says that it is a sense of humour that has helped him and his family get through the past few years.
He said: ''You don't know what you are capable of until you have to go through it.
'It was devastating to hear the diagnosis, like the bottom had dropped out of the world. 'When people hear cancer they think “I'm dead”'
'After the shock I said I am going to banish negative thinking from this house, we have to be positive.
'I have always had a sense of humour, and you have to laugh in a situation like this.
'Now I have the perfect face for radio.'
Bert shows This morning's Holly and Phil how easy it is to remove his new nose
The nose is made of silicone and mini metal poles and Bert uses Vaseline to smooth it on to his face
'It is really sturdy!' Holly Willoughby holds the prosthetic nose
Bert's wife Olwyn, 62, said: 'His sense of humour carried us through, listening to him being so positive and funny at times made me think: we can win this.
'We had no intention of crumbling.'
The nose is made of silicone and attached with two magnets, and Bert demonstrated how easy it was to take on and off by handing it to a surprised Holly live on air, asking: 'Do you want to feel Can you wipe it for me while you have got it'
Holly said: 'It is really sturdy!'
Mr Eastham admitted that he was almost
unable to look at himself in the mirror before getting his new nose and
thanked the prosthetic surgeons who created it before joking to Holly:
'My story is not to be sniffed at.'
Novel storage: The prosthetic nose has magnets that attach to magnetic studs implanted in Mr Eastham's face – this also means it easily sticks to the fridge in his kitchen
Speaking about the magnetic nose earlier last week he said: 'My new nose has given me a new lease of life but I was so worried we would lose it.'
After repeatedly buying fridge magnets as souvenirs from his holidays, Mr Eastham came up with a brainwave and now sticks his prosthetic nose alongside the others on the side of the fridge freezer before he goes to bed.
'I used to wear my nose to bed when I first got it, but one night it fell off and landed in one of my slippers, when I got up in the middle of the night, I stood on my own nose. I got the shock of my life.
Keeping it safe: Bert Eastham wearing his prosthetic nose which was fitted last month
'It was only when I noticed the fridge magnets in our kitchen that I thought I would test out whether my new nose would stick to the side too.
'Now if I’m cooking dinner, sometimes I’ll just stick my nose on the fridge next to the magnets because I don’t know when my nose is running and I wouldn’t want anything going into the food.
'Or if I’m at a party with my
friends, I’ll maybe stick it on the fridge just to lighten things up. I
can’t wait for the next time we go on holiday and go through security
because I’ll have to take my nose off – I bet they won’t have seen that
Mr Eastham was diagnosed with nasal cancer in 2009, after noticing growths on his face.
said: 'For a year I had two scabs at the entry of each nostril, which I
assumed were cold sores. I just used to pick them off – I didn’t think
it was anything serious.'
sores were swabbed and Bert was prescribed antibiotics but in February
2009, he was transferred to Preston Royal Hospital for a biopsy where he
was diagnosed with cancer.
Mr Eastham, who
lives with wife Olwyn, an accounts manager said: 'I felt like I
was in a dream, you always know someone with cancer but you never think
you’ll be the one to get it.
'It was such a blow – I had been made redundant the month before, so it was already a difficult time.'
who has seven grandchildren, was told the operation would be the most
effective treatment so he agreed to go for it – even though his face
would never be the same.
Replacement: Mr Eastham waited more than three years for his new nose, and it was fitted last month
Result: 'I burst into tears when I saw it for the first time – it looked so real', said Mr Eastham
said: 'I was told it would leave me very disfigured but would be the
best option to fight the disease. It was life or death – so I didn’t
care about losing my nose.
wanted to carry on living and see my grandchildren grow up, that’s what
was important to me. I must have sat in the car outside the house for
40 minutes thinking of ways to break the news to my wife.
burst into tears – she wasn’t expecting it. She phoned our family who
came round, it was very emotional. They were all so positive and told me
they were behind me.'
Mr Eastham on his 60th birthday before surgery
Mr Eastham underwent the operation to remove his nose and most of his upper lip on April 16, 2009, before receiving four weeks of radiotherapy in June.
He said: 'It was all very quick – I was home the next day. I was looked after by a fantastic team of nurses who would come to change the dressing – I can’t praise them enough.
'The dressing was removed every day until it healed – but I just couldn’t force myself to look at it.'
Although Mr Eastham had the confidence to go out with friends and to the shops within two weeks of his operation, it took him six months to look at himself in a mirror.
He said: 'I refused to look. I thought I looked so ugly the first time I did, my stomach dropped. The vain man in me would have likened me to Paul McCartney – my hero – but I just looked so different.'
'I went back for the prognosis, it was the first time I’d seen the surgeon smile.
He said it was good news and that I had the all clear. It was such a big relief, I just felt brilliant', he added.
Up until four weeks ago Mr Eastham wore a triangular-shaped plaster on his face in a bid to improve his appearance – but he added: 'Teenagers would actually shout abuse across the street, they would be laughing and pointing at me.
'Adults would avoid me – when they saw me they’d hurry their kids across the road. Some people thought I’d been in a terrible fight and had brought it on myself. I felt ignored and was sick of people patronising me.
'But it didn’t stop me going out, my amazing wife helped me and told me I was better than them – I wouldn’t let them stop me getting on with his life.'
Family support: Bert and Olwyn Eastham on their wedding day, 1971. He said his 'amazing wife' helped him dealing with his treatment
Surgeons operated to improve the appearance of Bert’s top lip last September and he was finally fitted with a silicon nose produced by Oral Maxillofacial Surgery UK last month.
Technicians at the firm spent months designing and producing the prosthetic nose, which was a rare task for them, as they were used to creating eyes, nipples and ears.
'They looked at photos to create an exact replica of my nose and matched my skin colour perfectly. It is so life-like, the detail is incredible – there are even varicose veins.'
Mr Eastham had waited more than three years for his new nose, which is held on with magnets.
'I burst into tears when I saw it for the first time – it looked so real', he said.
Within the last months, his self-confidence has shot up and he is delighted.
'When I walked out of the hospital with my new nose, not one person looked at me. I felt normal again. Although I’ll never look the same, I am so pleased I can get on with my life', he said.
VIDEO: See Bert Eastham surprise Holly and Phil with his removable nose and watch the full interview at This Morning