Updated: Jul 31
“God, please let this radiation remove the bad cells without damaging the good ones.” This was Sylvia's prayer as she received treatment for the cancer that was diagnosed during her second pregnancy.
Sylvia joined our Streams of Living Water (SLW) team as assistant to the director in 2018. Prior to that, she had enjoyed a career in e-commerce. Yet God called her into ministry, and she loved being able to use her skills for the Lord.
Before joining the team in Cairo, Sylvia found out she was expecting. Though this was a joyous surprise, Sylvia knew she would have to go on maternity leave soon after starting her new role. Despite this, the team that would become her support in the following months welcomed her.
During her pregnancy, Sylvia experienced severe pain caused by a growth on her tongue that made eating difficult. The growth continued to get larger. In September, she went to the dentist, who said it needed immediate removal. The surface of the growth was removed and tested.
The results came back positive for an aggressive cancer that required full removal as soon as possible. However, because Sylvia was pregnant, the doctors did not feel it was safe to operate.
On October 1, the first day it was safe to do so, Sylvia delivered her son. A week later, she had a hemiglossectomy, a surgery to remove the growth on her tongue along with half her tongue. Sylvia's surgeon recommended another surgery to remove a flap of skin from her neck to replace the missing portion of her tongue. After surgery, she was hospitalized for a week before returning home with a feeding tube through her nose.
Sophie, Sylvia's 2-year-old, was told the feeding tube was like an elephant trunk to help her mother eat. Through it all, Sophie had a sweet demeanor toward Sylvia. It was also difficult for Sylvia to speak coherently, and she was worried she wouldn't be able to communicate with Sophie.
"For a long time, my speaking wasn't clear, and I was concerned because I couldn't talk to Sophie, but the miracle was she was one of the people who could understand me best."
About a month after her surgery, Sylvia began radiotherapy. Her body reacted poorly to the radiotherapy, and she had to take breaks between treatments. As a result, the therapy became extended. It was difficult to be away from her newborn son, Philip, Sylvia recalls.
"I remember lying on the radiation bed," Sylvia recalls. "I could not even pray. I did not know what to say. I just remember reciting Psalm 23."
Despite this period of absence from her baby, they were still able to bond as mother and son, but only after the three months of treatment ended and she began to rebuild her strength.
When Sylvia returned to work, everyone told her how much they had prayed for her.
Through the whole ordeal, Sylvia and her husband felt the power and peace brought by the prayers of the Streams team. Her husband was able to go to work, and Sylvia felt a vast peace despite the massive trial they faced.
In spite of all the pain she and her family were going through, Sylvia was brought nearer to God through the saints' petitions.
"I've experienced how God is with people in pain, and they experience Him in a way like never before, and that's honestly worth the pain," Sylvia explains. "Because I've felt the power of prayer, I've learned to pray for others who are sick or need prayer."
Sylvia now lives in Canada with her husband and two children and continues to work as Streams' Development Manager. She communicates with donors about God's miraculous ways of using their gifts to grow the church in the Middle East/North Africa region.