A man born with a rare condition that deformed his face has shown he may lose the ability to speak to correct it.

A man born with a rare condition that deformed his face has shown he may lose the ability to speak to correct it.

A man born with a rare condition that caused his mouth to be completely deformed was forced to choose between his voice and his face as he was told that the only way to correct his appearance would result in him possibly losing the ability to ever speak again.

Zakeri Brown, 28, of Tennessee has cystic hygroma, a birth defect that looks like a sac-like structure usually located on the head and neck.

This meant that he was born with a cyst on his tongue and jaw, making it difficult for him to speak and his face appearing swollen and round.

He can remove the tumor surgically if he wants to correct his appearance – however, this can lead to the fact that he completely loses his tongue – and voice.

A man born with a rare condition that deformed his face has shown he may lose the ability to speak to correct it.

A man born with a rare disease that caused his neck and mouth to be completely deformed was forced to choose between his voice and his face.

Difficult decision: Tennessee-based 28-year-old Zakery Brown was told that the only way to correct his appearance was to cause him to possibly lose the ability to ever speak again.

Difficult decision: 28-year-old Zakery Brown of Tennessee was told that the only way to correct his appearance was to cause him to possibly lose the ability to ever speak again.

He was born with cystic hygroma, a birth defect that caused him to develop a cyst on his tongue and jaw, making it difficult for him to speak and his face appearing very swollen and round.

He was born with cystic hygroma, a birth defect that caused him to develop a cyst on his tongue and jaw, making it difficult for him to speak and his face appearing very swollen and round.

He can remove the tumor surgically if he wants to correct his appearance – however, this can lead to the fact that he completely loses his tongue – and voice.

He can remove the tumor surgically if he wants to correct his appearance – however, this can lead to the fact that he completely loses his tongue – and voice.

Zakeri, who said he now likes the way he looks after years of problems with confidence and self-doubt, refused the procedure because he said that his voice is much more important to him than makeup.

Zakeri, who said he now liked the way he looked after years of problems with confidence and self-doubt, decided not to have surgery as he said his voice was much more important to him than makeup.

Zakeri, who said he now liked the way he looked after years of problems with confidence and self-doubt, decided not to have surgery as he said his voice was much more important to him than makeup.

“I was thinking about surgery, I went mostly because of the voice. I sat down in the doctor’s office and told him, ‘If you can give me a choice between makeup or a voice, I’d choose a voice,'” he said. Really quite recently. “I don’t care as much about cosmetics as I do about voice.

“I thought it could improve my voice, but I was told it would make it worse. I had to choose between my face and keeping my voice.

‘[The doctors] said, ‘We don’t like telling you this, but if we operate on your tongue, your voice will deteriorate. You’re going to have scar tissue.”

“They said, ‘From a cosmetic standpoint, if we operate on your jaw, it can push your tongue back more, which will further interfere with your voice.’

“And I said, ‘No, I’m fine.’ So I didn’t do that anymore. I decided… to be happy with who I am.

 

 

As a child, Zakeri, who was homeschooled, said his parents "sheltered him a lot" because they were "afraid he would be bullied." He is in the photo with his parents

As a child, Zakeri, who was homeschooled, said his parents “sheltered him a lot” because they were “afraid he would be bullied.” He is in the photo with his parents

He said there was once an incident where a guy "went crazy" in the library and made a "big scene" because he was "afraid Zakeri had something he could pick up." He is portrayed as a teenager.

He said there was once an incident where a guy “went crazy” in the library and made a “big scene” because he was “afraid Zakeri had something he could pick up.” He is portrayed as a teenager.

Zakeri (a teenager pictured) had trouble communicating, and he often turned to video games because he knew that the people he played with wouldn't be able to see what he looked like.

Zakeri (a teenager pictured) had trouble communicating, and he often turned to video games because he knew that the people he played with wouldn’t be able to see what he looked like.

He admitted: "I was very addicted to the Internet. I played games you wouldn't believe. I would play 14 hours a day." He is portrayed as a teenager.

He admitted: “I was very addicted to the Internet. I played games you wouldn’t believe. I would play 14 hours a day.” He is portrayed as a teenager.

As a child, Zakeri, who was homeschooled, said his parents “sheltered him a lot” because they were “afraid he would be bullied” and worried about how “people might react” to him.

What is cystic hygroma?

  • Cystic hygroma is a birth defect that manifests itself as a sac-like structure with a thin wall, which most often occurs in the head and neck area in infants.
  • As the baby grows in the womb, it can develop from pieces of material containing fluid and white blood cells.
  • After birth, cystic hygroma usually looks like a soft swelling under the skin. The cyst is not visible until birth, and sometimes is not noticed until the person is older.
  • Treatment involves surgical removal of abnormal tissue when possible. Other treatments have been undertaken with limited success, including: chemotherapy, injections of sclerosing drugs, radiation therapy, and steroids.
  • Source: HopkinsMedicine.org

“I did have a few nasty incidents, like I was in the library one day and there was a guy who went crazy,” he recalled.

“He was afraid I had something he could pick up. He panicked and made a big scene, and it was terrible.

“I didn’t really have the opportunity to connect with other kids, I had to basically try to figure things out on my own over the internet, and that really made learning difficult.”

This incident, along with others in his childhood, prevented Zakeri from communicating with others.

He said he often turned to video games because he knew the people he played with wouldn’t be able to see what he looked like.

He admitted: “I was very addicted to the Internet. I played games you wouldn’t believe. I would play 14 hours a day.”

He started playing at the age of six, and when he was given his first computer at the age of 14, it further spurred his addiction.

“It was so easy to connect with people in the game because all they see here are the characters, your avatar, if you will,” he explained.

“Video games were a way to escape from real reality. I wasn’t seen there and I wasn’t judged, that’s why I played so much.”

Five years ago, Zakeri’s father suffered a radiation injury that made him unable to walk, so Zakeri had to step in and take care of him.

“He’s gone from driving, walking around the store to not being able to drive, walk around the house or even bathe,” Zakeri said.

Zakeri said video games "were a way to escape from real life" and he enjoyed playing because people didn't see him or judge him there.

Zakeri said video games “were a way to escape from real life” and he enjoyed playing because people didn’t see him or judge him there.

Five years ago, Zakeri's father (pictured with his mother) suffered from a radiation injury that prevented him from walking, so Zakeri had to step in and take care of him.

Five years ago, Zakeri’s father (pictured with his mother) suffered from a radiation injury that prevented him from walking, so Zakeri had to step in and take care of him.

The situation with his father opened his eyes and made him want to live life to the fullest. He decided to quit playing video games, got two jobs and started playing sports.

The situation with his father opened his eyes and made him want to live life to the fullest. He decided to quit playing video games, got two jobs and started playing sports.

He said "everything fell into place" after he started looking for a job and met new people in the process.

He said “everything fell into place” after he started looking for a job and met new people in the process.

“I stepped in and started taking care of him. I took care of him for about five years.”

The situation with his father opened his eyes and made him want to live life to the fullest.

He decided to quit playing video games completely, got two jobs and started playing sports.

“I started looking for a job and then when I started looking for a job, I met a lot of people and everything fell into place,” he said.

“I worked two jobs: one as a loader and the other in a part-time delivery service.

“I had a $5,000 gaming rig, very expensive gaming equipment, and I sold it all.

“I thought it was over, I was giving it all up, so I sold everything and I only had a portable device. Now I have nothing.

Zakeri started going to the gym because he wanted to “look better” and “better than himself,” and he said he immediately felt a surge of confidence.

He sold his game console for $5,000 and got a job as a loader and delivery driver at UPS.

He sold his game console for $5,000 and got a job as a loader and delivery driver at UPS.

Stronger: Zakeri started going to the gym because he wanted to "look better" and "better than himself," and he said he immediately felt a surge of confidence.

Stronger: Zakeri started going to the gym because he wanted to “look better” and “better than himself,” and he said he immediately felt a surge of confidence.

"Training helps me gain self-confidence by exercising, getting bigger, improving my fitness," he shared.

“Training helps me gain self-confidence by exercising, getting bigger, improving my fitness,” he shared.

He said it "made him come out of his shell," helping him feel better and "more confident." He said it "made him come out of his shell," helping him feel better and "more confident."

He said it “made him come out of his shell,” helping him feel better and “more confident.”

He started sharing his photos and videos on social media, which also helped him feel more comfortable in his skin. He started sharing his photos and videos on social media, which also helped him feel more comfortable in his skin.

Getting out of his shell: He started sharing his photos and videos on social media, which also helped him feel more comfortable in his skin.

He is now determined to continue his career at UPS and hopes to become a manager one day. He's also excited to expand his Instagram and TikTok accounts.

He is now determined to continue his career at UPS and hopes to become a manager one day. He’s also excited to expand his Instagram and TikTok accounts.

“Training helps me gain confidence by exercising, getting bigger, improving physical fitness,” he shared.

“When I go to the mirror now and look at myself in the mirror, I think, ‘Hey, I don’t look that bad!’

“I’ve been asked something like, ‘Do you need help with groceries?’ I’m like, ‘I go to the gym and exercise. I don’t need help with groceries.”

“I think it just made me come out of my sink, helping me feel better and more confident. It definitely boosts confidence.”

He started sharing his photos and videos on social media, which also helped him feel more comfortable in his skin.

He is now determined to continue his career at UPS and hopes to become a manager one day.

“I love working with people. Yes, I love everyone I work with and try to take good care of the people I work with,” he said.

“I want a big, beautiful house. Big new Mustang. I think we’ll see where my life goes.

He is also excited to expand his Instagram as well as TEC Tak accounts and plans to do bodybuilding soon.

“It’s very important to be sure who you are, confidence is everything,” he concluded.

 

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