By the time Ana turned 22, the tumor on her face had grown so large it covered her left eye. "I struggled a lot with reading. I had to deal with a lot of headaches," she says. "It became really hard to eat. When I would chew on the left side of my face, it would result in me biting into it."

At 24, Ana met a surgeon who gave her new hope—Dr. Munish Batra. "When I looked at her for the first time, I was completely just amazed that she hadn't had [more] help up until this time," he says. "As surgeons, we know that there's a lot we can do for this."

With Ana's consent, Dr. Batra and a team of surgeons at Scripps Memorial Hospital in La Jolla, California, began a series of risky—and ultimately successful—surgeries to remove the 2-pound tumor from her face. "There's a chance that they may progress [in the future]," he says. "But at this stage, it seems less likely because she's been at a fairly stable growth phase."


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