For fifteen years a lipoma had been growing under her collarbone, getting larger and larger. Emma Gama had “no hope,” except to assume the fatty tumor would just continue to increase in size and bother.

That’s what she told The Luke Commission staff who operated on her neck and removed the benign tumor. “I came here because I was sick and wanted to get some medicines. I thought there was no help, no hope for this lump under my skin.”

Smiling as she felt the bandage on her neck and shoulder, Emma said: “I’m so thankful that The Luke Commission goes all around our country helping us. I had no money to go to the hospital or even see a doctor.”

Emma was not the only one in her family with health problems. Her husband is paralyzed after his spinal cord was permanently damaged in a mining accident. Emma is her husband’s fulltime caregiver. The couple has four children.

Emma first noticed the growth by her collarbone in 2002. “When people here told me today that maybe they could take this thing from my body, I did not believe it could be. But it happened!”

TLC’s physician assistant Lelo noted cautiously before surgery in the mobile hospital high in the mountains of Eswatini: “Removing the tumor will be tricky. Half is in a safe area, and the other half is next to major vessels. I will try to get the biggest part out and hope the smaller follows.”

A couple hours later under local anesthetic, Lelo was able to remove the tumor, which like many lipomas grow tentacle-like projections. Lelo was assisted by TLC surgical staff, who also train other staff in medical procedures.

Lelo, surgical physician assistant, and Emma, the grateful patient, say “bye, bye” to a 15-year problem.
Their smiles tell it all.

“Fifteen years losing hope and now I am a free woman,” Emma beamed. “I must heal quickly now, because I must harvest my maize crop.” She plants and sells vegetables and maize to support her family.

by Janet Tuinstra

Hope found.
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