The Biggest Tumor I’ve Ever Seen

In this exciting edition of Kyle’s BLOG AGAINST THE FORCES OF DARKNESS you will read about many exciting patients (one), thrilling adventures around Madagascar (moved to next week) and maybe a joke or two (or three)! Keep reading my friend, unless you are blind in which case keep on listening (to the audio podcast version of this that I will never actually make)!

The big news around the ship at the moment is this fellow, Sambany.

His head is on the left
Yes that is attached to his face

There have been a few moments while I’ve been here on the ship when literally everyone was involved in a patients recovery. Around Christmas was a patient who nearly died in the ICU – they paged everyone over the intercom to pray for this guy and miraculously he stepped back from the edge of death. Another was last year in Congo, Grace, the girl with the basketball tumour stuck in her lip. And now again it has happened – Sambany has brought us all together and will forever be a Mercy Ships greatest moment.

When he showed up on the ship someone literally ran into my office saying they had just seen the biggest tumour of their entire life. We see a lot of crazy stuff on this ship so that’s a big claim. I peeked out to see but he had already descended into the hospital – I wasn’t too excited, how big could it be anyways?
The next few days were heavy with rumours. People said that there was a guy in the ward with a tumour bigger than a watermelon. It was whispered that it was as if he was carrying another person in his cheek. Others said it was so big that his head looked like a pimple on the side of it. However he was isolated in the ICU until we could confirm if we could operate or not and that place is like the Chamber of Secrets when it’s locked down.
Then one day down in the wards I saw him. I literally did a double take. The rumours were true and then some. I couldn’t believe it. My descriptions are all inadequate – just take a look again.

“You lookin at me?”

It was at this time that I heard the great news – we were going to operate on him. Apparently the surgeons were all quite hesitant, the amount of complications that could arise from removing something a fifth of your weight were apparently quite large. But finally after tons of tests and prayers they decided to do it. Sambany had this to say: “I know without surgery I will die. I know I might die in surgery, but I already feel dead inside from the way I’m treated. I choose to have the surgery.”

When Sambany left for the ship we were his last hope. It took him three days of exhausted shuffling to arrive at a place where he could hire a car to bring him to Tamatave. Then it was an agonizing wait while he waited to see if it was even possible to operate. And then, finally, he walked into the operating room. Sambany’s long journey was coming to an end.

My friend Ruben next to him for scale

I sent up a little prayer for the guy, feeling pretty good about myself – after all it was partly because of my work with the media teams that we have the funding to help guys like him, but I must admit I was happy I didn’t have to help with the surgery.
And then I walked past the door of my cabin and saw a little note.

blood donor
Guess where the blood is going?

They needed my blood that day and guess who it was for? Luckily this was the one way that I could help with the surgery and I happily gave a pint of my life water.

The club of people with slightly sore arms!
The club of people with slightly sore arms!

It ended up with 16 people (i think it’s 16, two are missing in the above photo) giving blood to Sambany. The surgery itself ended up taking 15 hours – and some people were even called down in the middle of the night to give their blood. In the end he didn’t have a drop of his own blood in him – it was all from the crew (making him the most multi-national person on the ship I think!) The tumour itself weighed 16.45lbs. He carried it around on his face for 19 years.

Photo Credit Katie Keegan
His new favourite activity

The next day all of us who gave blood went down to take a photo with Sambany. He was talking and excited, which surprised me – I sort of thought he would be out for days. He kept on calling all the nurses angel and praising Jesus which was awesome. When he wasn’t thanking everyone he was looking in the mirror, amazed that the man looking back at him was in fact him.

Which is why Sambany is a Mercy Ships greatest moment. We literally saved this guys life and I got to help. He can now walk comfortably (and faster than a snail), he can sleep on either side of his body, he can talk to people without them looking for his head, he can have friends and a family and be normal for the the first time in 19 years.

Photo Credit Katie Keegan
Let’s have one that one more time.

Pretty awesome if you ask me.

Come back soon for more adventures!



One thought on “The Biggest Tumor I’ve Ever Seen

  1. Oh man. Wow. You made me cry! How incredible. Just so amazing what is achieved on the ship, n the radical n often life changing n saving procedures. Makes me get all excited n inspired! It always amazes me how low humanity can stoop at times, but then also what humanity can achieve when we band together for good. Goose bumps!

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