Conquering fear

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Fanta’s tumour was a burden on her body and her mind

It’s hard to work if you’re a teacher who’s afraid of children, a jockey afraid of horses, or even a nurse afraid of surgery, like 44-year-old Fanta. Despite working in the medical field for over 17 years, Fanta was too frightened to undergo surgery to remove a 10-pound lipoma tumour under her right arm. For nearly 10 years, she learned to strategically hide the tumour under draped shawls while she worked, refusing to have surgery to remove it.

‘How can I expect people to respect me as a nurse and not be scared themselves when I am too afraid to do anything about my own problem?’ Fanta said.

Since she was a young girl, Fanta saw nurses at her local hospital in their uniforms taking care of people, and she knew she wanted to be a nurse, too. But, after hard work and a long journey to achieve her dream, her watermelon-sized tumour made it hard for her to wear the uniform she’d longed to wear as a girl. As the tumour grew painfully large, she knew something had to be done. However, working in the local hospital only heightened her fears of having surgery.

‘My colleagues told me I would die if I tried to have it removed, and that I had left it too long,’ Fanta said. ‘I see the surgeries, I see the blood, and I hate the thought of not being in control of my own body.’

It was both challenging and inspiring when the nurse became a patient

When she heard about Mercy Ships through her hospital, she was filled with hope instead of worry. During her consultation with Mercy Ships, she felt more at ease than she had ever felt before.

‘The nurses at the ship are so compassionate and loving,’ Fanta said. ‘They kept reassuring me that everything was going to be more than okay, and something in me trusted them!’

It only took a three-hour surgery onboard the Africa Mercy for Fanta to realise how much her fear held her back for the past decade. Her lighter arm and brighter smile made her wonder why she’d waited so long.

‘I can now lift my arms with ease! I will be able to dress like the other ladies at my hospital,’ Fanta said. ‘My husband has already bought me some new fabric so I can make more dresses that show off my arms!’

For patients like Fanta, Mercy Ships removes more than just tumours. After her free surgery, Fanta’s fear and anxiety were dispelled as quickly as her hope was restored.

A delight Fanta is ready to head home – and back to work

Story by Georgia Ainsworth