Hakeem was a 45-year-old Nigerian photographer, who had created a collection of photographs of all the famous Nigerian actors and actresses.
He developed a malignant sarcoma of the right-side of his head in 1995, which was treated in Nigeria by surgical resection of his right ear and scalp with consequent destruction of the right facial nerve (the nerve that moves the facial muscles).
In Nigeria surgeons had rotated flaps of skin and fat from his scalp to reconstruct this area. Despite this he developed two huge nodules of recurrence, which were almost as big as his own head. The first of these protruded from the right-side of his head and had destroyed the skull bone and part of the vertebral column on that side of his face and neck. It had infiltrated into the brain substance underneath. The second was on the left-side on the back of his head and neck. It was fixed to the muscles of his back.
He came to England in search of treatment and by the time of his operation in 1996, he could barely hold his head up with the weight of the two malignant tumours. He underwent surgical resection of both tumour masses, but the tumour on the right could not be completely removed because of the risk of damaging small blood vessels to vital structures in the brain. His treatment in the UK was funded by donations raised by a collection of well-known British actors, directors and impresarios. His operation lasted sixteen hours and involved maxillofacial surgeon, lain Hutchison, and neurosurgeon, Ian Sabin, working together. He required a massive blood transfusion because of the large blood supply of the tumour. The brain was covered at the end of the operation with muscle and skin from the right-side of his back (latissimus dorsi muscle).
He made an excellent recovery from the operation and was sent back to Nigeria three months after his treatment. He was offered chemotherapy in the UK and once more the actors offered to pay for this, but he declined this offer as he was starting to feel lonely during this prolonged separation from his family and friends.