Tet happier than ever for tumor, aging patients after treatment

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Three high-profile Vietnamese patients who had successful treatment for unusual conditions this year are having their happiest Tet in a very long time.

Nguyen Duy Hai, 32, is recovering at FV Hospital in Ho Chi Minh City after a 82-kilogram tumor was removed from one side of his body earlier this month.

The two women who aged rapidly due to rare dermal conditions, Nguyen Thi Phuong from the poor Mekong Delta province of Ben Tre, and Nguyen Thi Ngoc Mai of Hoi An, are getting better.

The young women made headlines last October with photos showing them looking 30-50 years older than they actually were.

Hai said "This Tet I have the biggest joy of my life. I feel a lightness. I have got rid of the giant tumor that I had to carry for 30 years.

"To be able to live a normal life like other people is amazing."

His mother Nguyen Thi Cho Con said though they celebrated Tet in the hospital, "the festival never felt happier."

Hai was diagnosed with neurofibromatosis type I, formerly known as von Recklinghausen's Disease, a genetic disorder. But he has been free of the biggest tumor ever known in Vietnam thanks to a 10-hour operation led by US plastic surgeon McKay McKinnon on January 5.

Doctors are surprised at the speed of Hai's recovery, after he became stable just six days after the surgery instead of the several weeks they had expected.

They suggested that his recovery was psychosomatic, attributing it to his desire for a normal life.

Hai and his mother had some sweetened fruits on New Year's Eve. He said he loves other Tet delicacies such as glutinous rice cakes and pickled onions but is on a strict diet.

His room is visited frequently by doctors and nurses, and is filled with laughter and animated conversation about his future plans.

After being discharged he will continue to get physiotherapy until he can walk, and he said he would then learn a job to take care of himself since his mother is old.

Younger

Phuong, 27, said the festival this year had been special to her and her husband.

She was discharged from hospital in mid-December and has been taking drugs since. Doctors will soon resume treatment.

The treatment began after skin samples sent to Baylor University in Texas, the US, confirmed that Phuong had two conditions -- cutis laxa, a group of rare connective tissue disorders in which the skin becomes inelastic and hangs loosely in folds, and mastocytosis, a rare disorder caused by the presence of too many mast cells.

"This Tet I feel like having a burden lifted. I'm getting younger for the new year, and so feel more comfortable about meeting my relatives and neighbors," Phuong said.

Her husband Nguyen Thanh Tuyen said he is trying to help her interact normally with people.

He said they had the happiness of celebrating the festival with other people. "We could join our families in visiting graves, sit with them at the New Year's Eve party, and visit their homes," he said.

Mai, 28, also said her spirit was up since her condition improved after free treatment at Hoan My Hospital in Da Nang last October.

"Thanks to the media, many people have helped me, the hospital has helped me. I think that since others have not given up on me, I should not give up."

During the New Year many strangers called on her just to show their support.

Mai's mother Nguyen Thi Mut said "People's attention has cheered up my daughter. Tet this year has been happier than ever."

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