Mary had endured years of her classmates’ taunting. “Bag face, bag face,” they shouted. A tumour covered her left eye, and as a result, Mary always looked sad. Day after day, the 14-year-old came home crying, tears trickling out from underneath her tumour. “Will this ever go away?” she wondered.

The tumour had been growing for years. The longer it is left untreated, the more dangerous it becomes. The family took their daughter to doctor after doctor, only to hear the same answer, “No, we can’t help.” Days, months and years slowly ticked by, and, steadily, Mary’s tumour continued to grow. 

The family was preparing to take their daughter to Nigeria when they heard about Mercy Ships. At the end of a long, hot day, waiting in line at the Africa Mercy screening centre, Mary received an appointment card. In a few weeks’ time she would see a surgeon who would decide for sure if her tumour was operable. 

Mary waited for two more weeks until she boarded a white Mercy Ships vehicle, entered the port, and finally looked at the ship for the first time. Mary and her mother were ushered into the medical tent. After years of waiting, they received wonderful news: “Yes, we’re happy to tell you…you’ll receive surgery – this week!” Mary’s mother beamed – she was delighted. As Mary glanced up, a hint of a smile crossed her face – a glimpse of hope after years of waiting. 

Three days later, Mary went into surgery, and after a few hours, she was wheeled back in with a thick bandage covering the left side of her face, where her tumour used to be. But Mary continued to wait. The bandage wouldn’t be replaced with a smaller one for another two days. She had 48 hours before she would know for sure if her “bag face” was now just a normal, healthy, 14-year-old girl’s face. 

When the nurses finally came to replace the old bandage, Mary nervously watched on. Then a nurse put a mirror by the bed. Mary picked the mirror up gingerly and stared directly into it, adjusted the angle and smiled…she was beautiful!  Ever since her surgery, there’s a lightness in Mary – the burden has finally been lifted, and the wait is truly over.