In case you did not catch the first part Nancy’s story, you can find it HERE.
After the cyst was discovered in Nancy’s liver, talks about going to India to seek a second opinion began. Her son Allan wasn’t convinced that going to India was necessary.
“We had gotten the best doctors locally, and whatever they had done could not be corrected by any other doctor anywhere else in the world. I told my parents that I didn’t think there was any more value that the Indian doctors would add” Allan told me.
He was also concerned that they might go to India and someone else makes a bigger blunder.
Mr. Lugano readily agreed to the suggestion of the second opinion.
After lengthy discussions within the family and after consultation with the doctors, the family agreed in unison to seek a second opinion.
It was June 2016, nine months since Nancy became sick. Still living through the pain, chocking occasionally and only whispering, her voice still eluding her.
A summary of her progress was done, and she was ready for a different medical experience in India. The employer, family and friends supported her as she prepared for the journey. Her house was full of visitors from family, friends, pastoral team, counselling ministry members, intercessors and others.
But she still wasn’t speaking, only very low whispers would come out with a lot of strain which was painful. Her friends knew and so they would practise at the door on how to interact with her when they would visit.
Everyone around her was concerned, especially her sons Brolin and Addy, who had to become more sensitive to their mum than before, wanting to be supportive to her even if they didn’t know what to do or say most of the times.
Everything was set up for India and it was time to depart.
But many questions plagued Nancy. What did this second opinion mean? Is there information they were hiding from her? Things weren’t made any easier by the fact that a friend was in India around the same time being treated for liver cancer while Nancy’s diagnosis was liver cyst.
Addy notes that one time as they took a walk with the mum, she began talking of shaving her hair. Later on, Addy discovered that she wanted to shave her hair, because she did not want to it fall off in case of a cancer diagnosis.
At some point Nancy did not want to go to India. Mr. Lugano lobbied her friends to convince her and she finally obliged.
But other questions were also in her mind.
“Have I sinned? Have I disgraced God? What have I done to deserve this?” She pondered in her heart.
She wondered what God was teaching her.
Nancy takes me back to some years back when she joined a short counselling class in church (Citam Woodley) organised by NIST (now International Leadership University – ILU). She joined reluctantly but really enjoyed the classes. The classes were later moved to the ILU campus and expanded into a diploma course in counselling.
“Little did I know that God was preparing me for a special assignment, the counselling course was going to be a platform to start from” She remembers.
And she reflected on that before her trip to India.
She tells me of a moment she will never forget.
“I woke up one night and really cried! I told God ‘I have released myself to you.’ It was place of total surrender that I had never reached before. I told God to take over.”
“Lord, you will heal me, I don’t know you will do it, but I know you will” she declared, remembering the woman with the issue of blood. She believed God would do it. She also promised to testify of His great works.
She rested her case to God.
Addy remembers that he noticed the mum wore a brave face, singing praises and looking like she had achieved some level of self-actualization, a testimony of the peace that Nancy was on.
The day before going to the airport, an old-time pastor friend from Tanzania came to the house together with his wife. He found everyone crying. Nancy’s mum, her husband and children were all in tears.
“Ndugu yangu, kuna ushindi mbele” the pastor spoke to Mr. Lugano, holding him.
He then pulled Nancy between himself and his wife and said, “My sister, count the blessings of God, name them one by one.”
That opened Nancy’s eyes and she started to see how God had been good to her throughout the ordeal. Nobody had reminded her of the many things that God had done in her life.
The pastor made a short prayer and off to the airport they went.
Nancy, Mr. Lugano and their son Allan were off to India, but it was clear to Nancy that her hope was not in India but in the Lord.
“The bible became real in that season of sickness” she tells me. “A scripture would drop in my heart and I would meditate on it deeply, I needed to be alone and relate with the word of God.” Nancy understood that it was her journey, it was about her, not for her husband, mother or children. She needed to surrender, release all bitterness and be free to see what God was doing in her life.
In India things moved fast. In seven days, thorough investigations were done. The summary of the findings was delivered by the team leader of the doctors’ panel.
“The lady you are seeing here is depressed” the first verdict was given. “She is not strong as you may think, in fact this condition has affected her self-esteem.”
It was true, throughout the sickness, Nancy’s body had taken a beating. Her hair had begun falling off, her nails were breaking, her skin was cracking, her teeth were falling out and her eyes were swelling, and nobody had noticed.
All that had become her new normal.
She was taken through swallowing therapy to manage the chocking.
She then went through counselling together with the husband since he was her support system. Antidepressants were prescribed for six months, to their shock.
After all that preparation they went back to the panel and that is when the bombshell was dropped.
“She has lost her vocal cords completely; she will never speak again i.e. vocal cord paralysis.
And then the doctor was quiet for some time, letting the information sink, a moment of silence ensued. Nancy could see her husband and son balancing tears as they processed the news. There were no better words to use, the team leader added, and he wouldn’t want to lift Nancy’s hopes about the eighteen months recovery period she had been given in Nairobi.
It was about twelve months since Nancy became sick.
I asked Allan about his Indian experience, from a doctor’s point of view.
“The doctors in the hospital that we went to were very liberal with information, they did not hide anything including giving the doctors notes after seeing you” he says.
“They also get a team of doctors to see you, kind of a check process, if there is no consensus between doctors then they sit down and review. That was assuring to mum and she felt that the approach was much better.”
Allan asked many medical questions including the recovery rate of patients with the same condition in that hospital.
“Ninety percent fully recover and speak normally again” the doctor answered. He added that the doctor in Kenya should have gone for the first thyroid, wait for recovery and then the second, not both at once as he did.
Nancy’s fear that she was a statistical minority was confirmed again, a devil’s lie she had to break out of later.
How do you process such life-changing news? How do you come to terms with the fact that you will never use your voice again? Nancy walked out of the hospital and she didn’t want to get into a taxi to the hotel. She told the husband that she just wanted to take a walk.
“Is this my life?” she whispered to her husband. He assured her that the important thing is that she was breathing and well. Amid the despair she said many things as they walked, including asking her husband how life would be without someone to attend to his guests.
Mr. Lugano, understanding what his wife was going through, could only look at her as they walked.
At the hotel, Nancy lay diagonally on the bed and cried. Her husband sat next to the bed and let her cry.
Then there was a knock on the door.
“Who knows us in India?” they wondered.
Apparently, Nancy’s brother in Germany is friends with a leader of a church in Bangalore. And he had asked them to visit Nancy and pray with her. They came in, sat in the room and talked to Nancy.
“I felt the warmth of the body of Christ (a family of believers) in a foreign land. The pastor’s wife hugged me, and it was just what I needed. They prayed, anointed us with oil and invited us to their church” Nancy recalls.
They worshipped in their church the next day.
Medical interventions ensued. Surgery was done on her eyes to open them. Her teeth were replaced with ceramic ones which were quite weighty and painful. She had to get many injections. At some point she would just cry when a nurse would prepare to inject her.
She was on calcium supplements, antidepressants, blood pressure drugs, pain drugs and others.
I ask about the liver cyst.
“It was confirmed through the scan that it was there, but the doctor said it should not be touched since it wasn’t cancerous. He insisted that nobody should ever touch it, just a general scan should be done yearly to check on it.”
“How did you manage the physical pain throughout the sickness” I ask.
“I really felt the pain from the first and second surgeries, but by the third and fourth I wasn’t really understanding myself. I just allowed myself to go through it” she answers.
Three days after the eye surgery, they travelled back to Kenya.
Her husband kept getting texts asking whether Nancy is talking. He would simply reply to them that she is well.
“I am surprised how my voice has come back this much” she exclaims. It is a miracle.
She was only whispering in low tones when she came back from India. She had to register with disability council as a disabled person as instructed in India.
Even then, she knew that wasn’t her life and she wanted God to restore her. Speaking was painful but she would strain and continue.
Whenever she spoke in the house, everyone had to be quiet so that she can be heard as she was only whispering.
“One day my husband tells me on the phone that ‘imagine I can hear you’” she lit up as she remembered that moment of victory.
The doctors call them false vocal cords, trying to explain how she could get some voice out.
Allan confirms that medically there is no explanation to his mum’s tremendous recovery. He attributes it to the fact that she took a positive approach to life, decided to tell the story of her journey and surrounded herself with friends and family who were very supportive and kept reassuring her.
In mid-2018, Nancy was supposed to update her disability documents with her employer and KRA. She was told that they needed to confirm that indeed she didn’t have vocal cords. They sent her to Kenyatta National Hospital, and she was examined by three ENT doctors who subjected her to the same procedure (Laryngoscopy) and confirmed the disability.
The throat and the nerves are totally paralysed.
She hands me the vocal report. I look at it and I look back at her. The fact that we were talking, and I could record her voice was nothing short of a miracle. Though Nancy talks in a low tone, she is audible.
They call her condition ‘bilateral vocal paralysis’.
On the family end, Nancy’s condition has brought the family closer together, they are now more sensitive and concerned for each other.
This is Nancy’s story. This is her voice.
She now sings ‘this is my story, this is my song, praising my saviour all day long’.