Restored face restores faith - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Restored face restores faith

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January 11, 2008

Valdosta - Tom McCament was diagnosed with cancer in 2002, a cancer so aggressive it ate away the base of his nose.

"I still had my bridge but it ate the front part of it. I wore a bandage over it to keep the appearance down and people seeing how bad it was," McCament explains.

But the bandages still couldn't hide the pain of his illness or his community's reaction.

He soon found himself living on the streets in St. Augustine, Florida.  "I was shocked at the amount of people who made fun of me. That didn't want to be around me. That was probably the hardest thing about it," he recalls.

Never losing faith, he felt called by God to move to Homerville. That's where he found Hope Ministries which introduced him to Valdosta plastic surgeon Shawn Vandemark.

Vandemark agreed to begin a complicated series of surgeries to reconstruct his nose, for free.

"He was missing lining on both the outside and inside of his nose so I made a flap on his forehead so we'd have skin on the outside and the inside. The main surgery was bringing the skin on his forehead down to his nose and recreating the nose," Vandemark explains.

A scar and swelling is all that remains.  "In an amount of time that will go away but I don't care. I have a nose," McCament says.

He's now beginning the new year with a new face, and renewed faith.

"Don't give up. Whatever you do, don't give up and always know that Jesus is watching over you."

About the remarkable set of circumstances that will help him begin a new life.

He says he sometimes forgets and still finds himself feeling for the mask on his face.

He now works for HOPE Ministries, a charity organization and homeless shelter...where he hopes to help others in a similar situation keep the faith.Feedback: news@walb.com?subject=restoringfaith-AE