Antonio three days post surgery
In the recovery room
Do you remember where you were two years ago … how fast has that time flown by? Here in the United States, two years seems like a snap of the fingers in the broader scheme of our lives. We have five-year plans, four year colleges, and seven year doctoral programs. Two years is nothing; but to a ten year-old girl from Angola, two years has become everything.
Just last month, we shared with you the story of Antonio, a bright-eyed child of God who traveled with her mother for four days, crossing the Angolan border into Congo to find help at Vanga Evangelical Hospital. There, Bill examined her and determined that it must be a brain tumor that was later deemed inoperable by experts from as far away as Boston, St. Louis, and Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. All agreed that without help she would not survive even two months. The best chance Antonio had would be if we could find a way to drain the tumor and apply chemotherapy to bring relief from the pain, thus give her another two to three years of life. Several hospitals in the US and other nations in Africa offered to help, but the child and mother had entered the Congo without passports and therefore could not be flown out of the country. Though these obstacles seemed insurmountable, through perseverance and prayer we were able to find a Congolese neurosurgeon in the capital city of Kinshasa who was both able and willing to do the procedure.
Last week, Antonio underwent this surgery, where the surgeon succeeded in inserting a tube into the liquid center to drain the contents of the tumor and injected chemotherapy to prevent regrowth. The spirited ten year-old awoke from the procedure and noted immediate relief from her pain as well as full use of her arms, which had previously been hindered by pressure from the tumor. Unfortunately, she has not regained her eyesight due to nerve damage, but there is still hope that she might regain partial vision. Next week, by the grace of God, Antonio will be discharged from the hospital and provided with the means for her and her mother to return home to Angola to rejoin her siblings, family, and friends. We praise God for our friends across the world who offered prayers, counsel, and support enabling Antonio to have this delicate, timely, and costly operation.
Although Antonio will face challenges as the tumor regrows over the next several years…she now has a window of time to return home and be with those she loves. What was once a short two month prognosis has been stretched into two full years that we hope will be filled with love and blessings. When Bill and I visited her in the hospital this past week, she smiled her sweet smile and told us she wanted to sing us a song. With bright eyes sparkling with life and a newfound hope, she sang out to us, “God gave me a light to share with the whole world”.
No one knows how long Antonio will live, but she knows that she is surrounded by prayer and love from afar. More so, she knows with assurance that God will remain steadfastly by her side until the day she returns to her permanent home…where she will regain her sight and blessings beyond.
So remember Antonio two years from now, when your life seems to pass by so quickly; remember the sweet, bright-eyed ten year-old from Angola who traveled days into a foreign country for the chance to live long enough to share her light with the world. Remember her story, and how she has shown us that only God can turn two years into a lifetime of light.
"The sun will no more be your light by day, nor will the brightness of the moon shine on you, for the LORD will be your everlasting light, and your God will be your glory." Isaiah 60:19
authored by Cass Clemmer