LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - A woman left disfigured after being misdiagnosed with a cancerous tumor and mistreated with radiation will receive life-changing surgery.
Lessya Sennik-Kotelevskaya was left with a crater in her face after receiving targeted radiation treatments she didn't need. Part of her jawbone and cheek deteriorated as a result.
The Russian-born mother, who prefers her maiden name Sennik, has a six-year-old but lost a child before her son was born due to unnecessary medical procedures.
More than 10 years ago Sennik was accidentally hit in the face during a basketball game in Kazakhstan and the swelling was misdiagnosed as cancer.
Sennik was 19 when she lost her home, husband and boutique business following the misdiagnosis.
Her cousin, Oleg Sennik, spent decades searching for his childhood friend and relative. He finally tracked her down online and flew her to Louisville where he's lived for several years.
"I went to church very often and prayed some day I would not have to worry about my face all the time," she said through Oleg, who interpreted for her.
"I always knew that he existed somewhere but I didn't know how to reach him," she said.
In the coming months a team from University of Louisville Physicians will reconstruct her face. It will cost more than $1 million to pay for the procedures, but she won't be charged a dime.
Dr. Jarrod Little, a plastic and reconstructive surgeon, will be donating his time and expertise so she can live a life without covering up what unnecessary radiation left behind.
"Certainly if anybody deserves a chance of a new life, it's Lessya," Dr. Little said.
The first surgery is scheduled for November 14.
The second surgery is a major operation. It's scheduled in January and may take up to 24 hours. Doctors will remove a leg bone that still includes skin and blood vessels.
The bone will be formed into a new jawbone, and the skin will become the new inside covering of her mouth.