Warning: This article contains images that some viewers may find disturbing.
Billy Owen was working as a mechanic. He was married and father to a six-month-old when one day he came down with a nasty head cold. It just wouldn't go away so he finally went to the doctor to put an end to it. But it turned out to be only the beginning of something much worse.
“I had headaches and couldn’t breathe because my right nostril was totally plugged. Doctors gave me decongestants thinking it was sinusitis, but my wife finally pushed me to see a specialist.”
Ultimately, he got some terrible news: he had a rare form of cancer that impacts the nasal cavity and only has around a 10% survival rate.
The tumor is usually able to be removed at an early stage, but in Billy's case, it was necessary to remove half of his face, including his right eye and surrounding muscles and nerves.
Billy was left with a gaping hole where his eye once was.
This procedure could easily discourage or depress someone. It certainly wouldn't make most people keen to show their face in public. Billy responded differently, however. This experience completely turned his life around.
“I was living a wild and crazy life before, drinking too much. But after my surgery, I was having a hard time in the hospital, going on a rampage and I felt something rubbing my hand; something like the presence of God. I felt a deep sense of peace and knew everything was going to be okay.”
Billy decided to rededicate his life to his son and wife. He felt he owed them everything: “I can’t imagine what she went through... and my son, he’s the only one who never saw me any differently.”
The only thing that still really bothers Billy is the phantom itch he has in his missing eye, which unfortunately can't be helped.
He was fitted with a dental plate to maintain his face shape, but if he removes it, he can stick his finger through his eye socket into his mouth. Billy was unable to continue his work as a mechanic. Yet... he had a rare gift now and he decided to make the most of it: he changed careers and started playing zombies in horror movies!
He recently starred in an episode of “Freakshow,” a series on AMC.
Many people have since shared that they were deeply moved by his story.
“One guy offered to make me a custom eye patch!,” Billy said enthusiastically. “But what I really want is to once again be the main breadwinner for my family.”
Billy seems to have a great perspective on life, even if he is short one eye. Most people who know him agree that he seems happier today than before, thanks to his optimistic outlook. His attitude is a good demonstration of that old expression, "if life gives you lemons, make lemonade" — we can all do with more lemonade!