I met this man several weeks ago now.
He had the largest tumour I had ever seen. It had been growing for 19 years. Hearing his medical history I thought his chance of being healthy enough to have surgery on our ship with limited complications would be slim, but as time progressed, to my joy, he proved my doubts wrong. He was approved to have this enormous, life-changing surgery. We told him that he could easily die on the operating table because of a whole range of complications. He said without surgery he knew he would die, but he already felt dead inside because of the way he was treated.
So we prayed and prepared.
The day of his surgery came. The laboratory had already bled a lot of my friends and crew mates for blood donations and had people on standby for more.
As the day wore on, the operating room team continued the mammoth operation. It took more than 12 hours of surgery to remove his 7.46kg tumour. Post-operative he went into the ICU and stayed on the ventilator overnight, but by morning he was well enough to be extubated and look at himself in the mirror. Can you just imagine what was running through his mind?
Over the following days he struggled a little as his body re-adjusted to life without an enormous tumour, but before long he was walking around the ward taking care of himself like every other patient in there with a dressing on their head. He blended right in to the mix of patients in the maxilla-facial ward, to the point that you’d never even believe, apart from seeing the photos, that his body had ever endured such stress.
His story of survival and endurance is nothing short of a miracle. It has been a privilege to be a small part of his story in looking after him on the ward and managing his care. What an amazing story!