Mother was forced to have her EYE removed due to a rare cancer

Mother, 29, has her eye removed in life-saving procedure after a rare cancer spread across her face

  • Toni Crews began battling blurred vision and headaches in July 2016
  • Diagnosed with adenocarcinoma – type of cancer in the gland of her right eye 
  • Forced to have two surgeries in remove the growth; is awaiting radiotherapy
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A mother was forced to have her eye removed to save her life after a rare tumour spread across her face.

Toni Crews, 29, of Deal, Kent, began battling blurred vision and headaches in July 2016.

She was later diagnosed with adenocarcinoma – a type of cancer that developed in the gland of her right eye – and told her only option was to have her eye removed.

After enduring the surgery, Ms Crews was fitted with a false eye and slowly started to accept her new appearance. 

But things took a turn for the worse when the stay-at-home mother-of-two discovered the cancer had returned last November. 

Forced to have the new mass removed, Ms Crews – who is single – woke to 34 staples across her head, as well as a 12-inch scar. 

Far from the ordeal being over, she begins radiotherapy in a few weeks’ time.  

Toni Crews was forced to have her eye removed to save her life after a rare tumour spread across her face. She is pictured left after the operation and right wearing an eye patch, which she customises to match her outfits. She was diagnosed with adenocarcinoma in July 2016

Ms Crews is determined to keep fighting for her children Charlie seven, and Faith, six (all pictured). After having her right eye removed in September 2016, she discovered the cancer had returned in November 2018 and needed further surgery to combat a mass across her face

Ms Crews was referred for a scan after a routine trip to the opticians revealed she had stripes at the back of her eye.   

Although the scan revealed a tumour, doctors told Ms Crews the growth was in her lacrimal gland, which secretes tears. 

This is rarely associated with cancer, with medics reassuring the mother there was just a 95 per cent chance the growth was benign. 

However, a biopsy soon revealed the tumour was malignant. 

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‘I was shocked when scans revealed the cause of my blurred vision and headaches was due to a tumour behind my eye,’ Ms Crews said.   

‘It was aggressive and chemo resistant – my only option was to have the eye removed.’

Ms Crews had the drastic surgery in September 2016. 

‘The first time round, I was able to have a false eye, and was taught I knew it would mean having a false eye wouldn’t be possible and my appearance would drastically change,’ she said. 

‘But I knew I had to keep fighting for my kids, Charlie (seven), and Faith (six), as they needed me.’

Pictured left before the surgery, Ms Crews was diagnosed following a check-up at the opticians, where they discovered ‘stripes’ behind her eye, with a biopsy then confirming it was cancer. She is pictured right in hospital after having her eye removed was her ‘only option’

Ms Crews’ ordeal has inspired her son to become a doctor so he can help those in need


Adenocarcinoma is a type of cancer that affects the mucus-secreting glands found throughout the body.

It can occur anywhere in the body, with is prevalence varying depending on where it affects.

The disease is most common in the:

  • Lung – adenocarcinoma is the most common type of non-small cell lung cancer, which makes up 80 per cent of lung cancers
  • Prostate – adenocarcinoma accounts for 99 per cent of all prostate cancers
  • Pancreas
  • Oesophagus – adenocarcinoma is the most common type
  • Colorectal – adenocarcinoma accounts for 95 per cent of colon and rectal cancers
  • Cervix – adenocarcinoma is responsible in more than one in 10 cases 

Adenocarcinoma affects around one in every 100 people diagnosed with cancer of the nose and nasal sinuses. 

Treatment varies on where the cancer grows in the body.

It may include surgery to remove the cancerous tissue.

Radiation and chemotherapy may also be used in combination with surgery.

Source: Cancer Treatment Centers of America  

The ordeal was far from over when Ms Crews discovered the tumour had returned in November 2018 and she needed to go under the knife again.    

‘I knew the cancer was back at the end of last year when I started to get pain in the back of my eye,’ she said. 

‘After the new mass was removed, I woke up to 34 staples across my head, as well as stitches and I have a 12 inch scar,’ she said.

‘I now need radiotherapy treatment in a bid to save my life. I won’t give up.’

While she continues to fight the disease, Ms Crews has decided to ‘own’ her new look.     

‘I decided to own my scars as I was becoming self conscious of the staple scars across my head and after losing my eye,’ she said.

‘I thought “why should I hide them?”

‘Everyone goes through things and this has made me strong.

‘They’re like a trophy – these are the war wounds of my battle.’ 

Her ordeal has had an impact on all those around her and has even inspired her son to pursue a career in medicine.

‘My son wants to be a doctor now, to help people like me and it makes me so proud that I’ve been able to inspire him on my journey,’ Ms Crews said.

‘I’m so grateful to the NHS – I’ll fight this, and be closely monitored for the next ten years.

‘But this has had a positive impact on me, I’ve created my own business and become strong.’

Ms Crews even dresses up her eye patches and uses them as accessories.  

‘For the sake of my kids, I have remained confident, I even began creating eye patches, with crystals and ones that matched my outfit,’ she said.  

Ms Crews has even created her own business creating eye patches for others. 

Pictured left with her children before she was diagnosed, Ms Crews never imagined her headaches and blurred vision would be due to cancer. After initially being self conscious of her new appearance, Ms Crews (pictured right after surgery) decided to ‘own her war wounds’

After her second surgery, Ms Crews woke to 34 staples across her head (pictured)

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