by Veronica Williams
I am a living example of God’s grace. Here’s why:
I have survived a grueling ordeal. Twenty years ago I had a paratid tumor removed. This type of tumor was in my facial cheek, under the facial nerves. Yes, in my head; not in the cranium but nonetheless in a precarious location. That surgery was more difficult than expected and left me taking blood pressure medicine every day since. It was successful.
Not too long ago the paratid tumor returned….not one, not a few, but a cluster of tumors in my head! There are not too many surgeons who will remove paratid tumors. There are even fewer who will operate on a patient with a recurring paratid tumor. A dear friend continually pushed me to have the growth checked right away. During my search for a surgeon I was turned down again and again. In one instance, after my condition was described and an appointment scheduled, I was actually in the doctor’s office when he came in an explained that he couldn’t treat me! During my search, the name of the surgeon who ultimately performed my miracle operation came up a few times. It was clear that I had to seek out this person to treat me.
Once I located this surgeon I learned that he was in the process of changing hospital affiliations. I decided to wait a few months until he was settled in his new environment. On the day that Dr. Urken first saw me, he convinced two doctors to stay late to perform tests on me. Dr. Urken, too, stayed very late so that he could see me again after all of the tests had been completed. It was early December. I had surgery 23 days later. Given everything that I had to go through, that in itself was a miracle.
I run a small business and was in the process of transitioning project managers during the middle of a major project. Year-end closing had to be completed. I had to prepare to be unavailable for what I thought was to be 6 weeks; a lifetime for a small business owner. That was not all that I had to do. In addition to a battery of tests between New York and New Jersey, and compiling tremendous amounts of information for an insurance company that was to deny even the most obvious medical expenses, I attended the funerals of two friends during this brief period. One was 38; the other was 45, a husband and father. The sanctity of life was crystal clear in my mind.
The time was near. It was the day before my surgery. I prepared for the next day, getting assurance from my insurance company that everything was approved and ready for my operation.
My 40-minute surgery took almost 4 hours. It was much more complicated than expected, primarily due to the excessive number of tumors and where they were located. After I entered the recovery room we learned that there was bleeding in my head. I was rushed in for another surgery. Truly, God was watching over me! I was in the “step down” unit. That is one step away from intensive care. It was New Year’s eve. I was released from the hospital. I much later learned that my insurance company had refused to cover the hospital stay.
In the next few weeks, I had a minor relapse, my father was hospitalized with life threatening illness and I learned that I needed 7 weeks of daily radiation treatments. God remained right by my side and boy did I need Him!
While recovering and preparing for radiation I visited my father on two occasions while he was in two different hospitals in MD and DC. I spent most of my time during these trips in the hospitals with my father. I also managed a short trip to the Caribbean. Little did I know how much I would need it, for radiation would be both a physical and mental challenge.
I traveled into New York City from New Jersey every weekday for 31 treatments of 180 centigrays of radiation. I had extreme side affects. I lost a huge patch of hair, lost hearing in one ear, developed a blistering mouth, developed a limp and radiation brain, to name a few. The good news is that I was able to endure these and other challenges for the entire 7 weeks! I was even able to encourage others who were going through radiation with me.
My prognosis is good. My future is bright. I am healing and fully expect that I will be totally healed in time. I traveled to the operation and all of my radiation treatments alone. I slept most of the time when I was not in radiation. I am blessed with many friends and family who helped and checked in with me during this period. Most of the time, however, it was just me and God. That’s all that I needed.
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. ~ 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 (New International Version)