Rotorua's Clifford Llewell won't be hiding a large hole in his face behind a mask for much longer as his new face is just weeks away.

The 76-year-old has no teeth or nose, his upper lip is gone along with his upper jaw after having a large tumour around his nose and upper jaw removed.

The cancer, nasomaxillary carcinoma, has spread too deep for any further surgical removal and it is not known how much longer Mr Llewell has left.

But the softly spoken pensioner still counts himself as one of the lucky ones and lights up when he talks about his future with a new face.


The surgical and technical teams, technically known as maxillofacial, at Waikato Hospital have been working together to rebuild his face and because Mr Llewell has gone through the public system his treatment is fully government funded.

For Mr Llewell, it will mean he will be able to live out his last days comfortably without having to hide his face in public.

"I had all my implants put in last week and I'm going in on Monday for a clean out.

"I'm getting there slowly, they said at the start it was going to take 12 months. Steve's (Clifford's son) got to go up soon so they can take a copy of his face to model mine off."

Clifford said it has been wonderful living with his son and daughter-in-law and all three of them were in a happy mood as they had just found out their daughter (Clifford's granddaughter) had officially been given the all clear after her fight with breast cancer.

"She's a lovely girl, it's all too much."

Clifford, who has also put on 4kg since moving in with his family, said he had been having a bit of a holiday.

"I've been watching my race horses and all of the Olympics. I really enjoy the rugby but there's been all sorts on."

He said he was looking forward to having new teeth and being able to chew again.

"The surgeon is very confident, he just puts me to sleep and goes to work. Everyone at the hospital is marvellous. They are a good crew."

Son Steve said there was still a bit of work to do and he would have a mold of his face made soon.

"We might get someone more handsome out of the Women's Day, he really can choose who he wants to be, we always joke about that.

"There is a time factor when it comes to the implants, they have to make sure they work with the bone and that the bone will take to them and grow around them.

"They originally said it could take eight weeks but they have changed that to a bit shorter so they are quite confident, we will find out on Monday how much longer.

"They aren't going to muck around, once the implants are all sorted it will be all go."

Clifford's maxillofacial clinical technician, Mike Williams, said they put the implants in his face on August 8.

"We will be doing a dressing change on Monday. As soon as his skin heals then we can get on with the prosthesis."

Mr Williams said it would only be a few more weeks until Clifford had a new face - "three weeks tops I'd say".