Mother and daughter with identical tumours are free of the growths

Mother and daughter who suffered with IDENTICAL facial tumours undergo life-changing surgery to remove the mammoth growths

  • Mother Valerie was bullied for 25 years over her 8lb salivary-gland tumour
  • Daughter Edith, now 12, developed the same growth at just seven years old
  • Unable to make ends meet, they had life-changing surgery on a floating hospital 
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A mother and daughter with identical facial tumours have been given a new lease life after volunteer doctors removed the growths for free.

The mother, known only as Valerie, was bullied for 25 years over her 8lbs (3.6kg) salivary-gland tumour, which dominated the right side of her face.

She was devastated when her daughter Edith, now 12, developed a similar growth five years ago, which started as just a small lump behind her ear. 

Valerie (left) endured 25 years of cruel bullying over her 8lb salivary-gland tumour. She was devastated when her now 12-year-old daughter Edith (right) developed the same growth aged just seven. Barely able to make ends meet, Valerie could not afford to pay for their surgery

After making an eight-hour trip to the floating hospital Africa Mercy, run by the charity Mercy Ships, Valerie returned to her village in Cameroon tumour-free. She then made the grueling journey again with Edith. The pair are thrilled with the results and say their lives have changed

Barely able to make ends meet, the pair, from Cameroon, had no choice but to let the bulging masses grow until Valerie discovered the floating hospital Mercy Ships was docked eight hours away. 

Valerie made the heartbreaking decision to leave her daughter while she traveled to have life-changing surgery.  

After a lengthy six-week recovery, she returned to her village, only to make the voyage again with Edith in tow. It is unclear how much Edith’s tumour weighed.

Speaking of when her surgery bandages were removed, Valerie said: ‘I said “Wow! Is this really me? Is this really happening to me?” It’s a miracle.’  

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Valerie, who lives in poverty, was forced to endure her growth for decades and was left heartbroken when Edith developed the same tumour at just seven years old.

‘We didn’t have any money,’ she said. ‘I lived each day as if it was my last.’   

Speaking of her condition, Edith said: ‘I saw a small lump on my jaw and it started growing. I was scared – I was worried it would grow as big as my mother’s and disfigure my face.’

Valerie was operated on aboard the UK-charity’s vessel ‘Africa Mercy’ by the volunteer surgeon Dr Gary Parker.

After being away from home for a month-and-a-half, she returned to her village tumour-free, full of hope for Edith. 

‘When I saw my mother for the first time, I was so happy! She looked beautiful!,’ the teeanger said.

The pair returned to the floating hospital two weeks later, with Edith also going under the knife. 

‘I just knew everything was going to be okay,’ Valerie said. ‘I’d been through it and survived. Watching my baby being taken away, I was confident and happy.

‘I was overjoyed to see Dr Gary again. He changed my life and now he was changing my daughter’s.’

Edith spent two months recovering aboard Mercy Ships – which has performed 95,000 operations in developing countries since its 1978 launch – before returning home with her mother. 

Kirstie Randall, a long-serving Mercy Ships volunteer, said: ‘I’ll never forget their transformation after they were treated on our ship. Valerie was free of the pain that blighted her for over 20 years.

‘Edith finally got to imagine a future without being bullied over her appearance. 

‘I’ve volunteered for Mercy Ships for over a decade and it’s still so rewarding to see how the charity can change the course of a person’s life.’   


There are several types of salivary glands in and around the human mouth, and all can fall victim to benign or cancerous tumours.

The glands are where saliva is produced to lubricate the mouth and throat and to digest food. 

The three types of salivary gland are the parotid glands, the submandibular glands, and the sublingual glands.

Tumours in the parotid glands – which are just in front of the ears – are the most common, making up about 70 per cent of salivary gland tumours.  

Submandibular tumours are the second most common, accounting for 10 to 20 per cent of tumours – the glands are just below the jaw.

The sublingual glands are the smallest and are in the bottom of the mouth under the tongue – tumours starting in these are rare.

Source: American Cancer Society 

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