Modern-Day “Elephant Man” Helping Teens with Self-Esteem


Alorah Leinenbach, Reporter

Eddy Newton was just three-years-old when he developed the first red blotch on his face. Soon after, a bump under his right eye emerged. His mother became worried for his health and took him to many urgent cares and hospitals. A few days later, his biopsy came back with a disease called neurofibromatosis. When he was just 7- years-old, a doctor removed a 7.5-pound tumor from his cheek. Many people told him he would not pass the age of eight, but here he is at the age of 47, with a disease coined as “Elephant Man” syndrome named after Joseph Merrik, the 19th century British man with neurofibromatosis. “… each day brings a succession of battles to stay alive,” said Eddy.  Many doctors told him this because he had 30 major surgeries and 50 minor surgeries to control the growth of multiple tumors. He felt “the surgeries were never ending,” and like everything was piled on him; he hated getting made fun of for the way his face looked.

With all the surgeries that Eddy had to go through, he was left with deep facial and neck lacerations, a sagging eyelid and chin, no right ear, and only a few teeth left. At his lowest point he actually took a job with Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus, where he traversed the American countryside as the Man with Two Faces. They named it this because Eddy believed that he had two sides to his face, the good side and the bad side.

Eddy told himself that he was the town show freak because everyone would stare at him. He was always stopped by so many disabled people and asked, “How are you so confident with yourself and getting out there?” and he always would say, “This is my home. I take the fear inside and kill it.”

For more than two decades he continues to help people with their life and how they are struggling. Now Eddy Newton is working with an orphanage in Tijuana, Mexico helping out with their needs. He is also helping the homeless with food and shelter. To this day he is sharing his story with teens and making his words spread across the world.  Recently, he founded a non-profit called “Eddy Unmasked,” devoted to helping teens cope with self-esteem issues.