How a Sax Blasted a Life-threatening Tumor
Reva Lachica Moore
Have you ever wondered how God answers prayers? Did you know that way before you ask God for something, He already knew your circumstances and had set in motion - events, people, things way before you have come to your point of need?
When you pray, God’s answer could either be: YES, NO or WAIT. Often, we wonder why it takes a long time before God answers our prayers. And sometimes, He also answers our prayers quickly and in the most unusual way. And to our amazement, He has placed people and events as one, like putting together a jigsaw puzzle.
In 2001, a great idea came to me to purchase musical instruments on eBay. I found “almost new” instruments paying only a fraction of the cost if they were brand new. So I raised funds and bought several accordions, flutes, saxophones and donated them to churches and folks in the Philippines, never thinking that years later, a saxophone would help answer a very earnest prayer.
Let’s FAST FORWARD the years. In November 2007, I heard about Lilibeth, 28, mother of 3 from Cagayancillo, Palawan. Lilibeth has a huge hemangioma tumor on her right side. Our organization, "Adopt a Minister," didn’t have funds for Lilibeth’s surgery, but we felt we have to help her, or she would die.
To raise funds, I wrote about Lilibeth in my Sharing Time column. A few generous folks sent help and with the small fund, I sent word to Pastor Ruben Villanueva to have Lilibeth go to Manila, together with little Janice, the girl with a tumor on her nose. Pastor Ruben and his wife Shari welcomed Lilibeth and Janice in their home.
They looked for charity hospitals that would give them their surgeries. Charity hospitals in the Philippines are not 100% free. The patient has to pay for the operating room, medicine, anesthesia, etc. Sometimes, the services of doctors are free, if you can find one who is willing to do the surgery. Lilibeth was accepted in one charity hospital right away in spite of the long line of waiting patients, so we were ecstatic. She was scheduled for surgery the following week. But Lilibeth’s cat scan showed 8 huge blood vessels inside the tumor. To avoid excessive bleeding, she has to undergo a procedure to shrink the blood vessels in the tumor in another hospital prior to surgery. This was extra cost, almost half of the funds that we’ve raised.
Our excitement did not last long, for setbacks started coming. The head surgeon had to go to Korea for a meeting. Then, because of Holy Week, they accepted only emergency cases, pushing Lilibeth’s turn for surgery another month or longer. By this time, Lilibeth had been staying at Pastor Reuben’s home for over 3 months and her pain had worsened. More prayers went to heaven for Lilibeth.
As Lilibeth’s hope for surgery barely flickered, Pastor Ruben suddenly remembered a college friend, Dr. Radney Famero, who was having his residency in a Manila hospital. He gave the doctor a call. The doctor told Pastor Ruben to see him at the hospital. The next day, Pastor Ruben and Lilibeth joined the long line of waiting charity patients.
Amid the crowd of hospital personnel and patients, a familiar face showed. The young doctor friend welcomed Pastor Ruben and Lilibeth. “Where is she from?” Dr. Famero asked Pastor Ruben. “She’s from Cagayancillo, Palawan. She’s very poor and a medical project of Ma’am Reva Lachica Moore,” Pastor Ruben answered. Immediately, Pastor Famero busied himself to have Lilibeth admitted that very day.
That night Lilibeth stayed at the hospital while Pastor Ruben secured 10 units of blood from student volunteers. He also purchased the needed things for surgery and reported to me what was happening. When I heard the doctor’s name, memories of a Selmer saxophone that I bought on eBay from years past came back to me. “Ruben, I think that Dr. Radney Famero was the graduating medical student whom I gave a saxophone to back in 2002.” “Oh? Now I understand why as soon as the doctor heard your name, he worked out Lilibeth’s admission right away.”
I remember back in 2002, after I had given out the last musical instrument, I received a letter from a childhood friend in Romblon. My friend asked if I could buy a saxophone for her son. “Our son, Radney, is graduating from medical school and really wanted to have a saxophone but we cannot afford it,” the letter said. “Could you give him this gift? We’ll truly be very grateful.” Back to eBay I searched and found a beautiful, “almost new” Selmer saxophone.
The original price was over $4,000 and after much bidding, I got it for $600. When I received it, it was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. It looked like sparkling gold in its most exquisite, velvet case. I sent it to my friend and forgot all about it, until two weeks ago. Back to Lilibeth.
Two days later, Lilibeth was rolled into surgery and we prayed that Jesus, Himself, will perform the surgery. She didn’t have to undergo the procedure to shrink the blood vessels, which would have cost a hefty price. Right before Lilibeth's surgery, the head surgeon told Pastor Ruben that if the surgery will take over 6 hours, they will stop and schedule another time to finish it.
He wanted to remove the part of the tumor that was bearing down on the liver first and do the second surgery at another time to take out the rest of the tumor. We here at home prayed as we waited. We also asked friends for prayer for Lilibeth. I couldn’t sleep so I watched the clock and prayed. Four hours later, I made the call. Pastor Ruben said Lilibeth was still in surgery. Every hour I called and finally dosed off to sleep. At 5:00 a.m. I heard the good news.
“Lilibeth is now awake and in “recovery” after 8 long hours! They removed every bit of the 11 pound- tumor!” I’ve read somewhere that 1 to 2 in 1000 surgery patients regain some level of consciousness after many hours in surgery. Lilibeth was one of them.
While in surgery, she woke up and heard conversation, although she couldn't feel anything. One surgeon said to close her up and finish the surgery at another time, but Dr. Famero insisted on finishing the back part of the tumor, himself. And he did! I’ve never met Dr. Famero nor Lilibeth. I just saw their pictures that Pastor Ruben sent to me. But this is a good example of a ripple effect of kindness given to someone who also gave kindness to another person.
When I gave that saxophone in 2002, I haven’t met Pastor Ruben yet, nor Pastor Edbert who told me about Lilibeth. God puts people and events together to show His awesome Love and Power. Indeed God answered our prayers for Lilibeth way ahead of time.
“And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while they are still speaking, I will hear.” Isaiah 65:24