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‘God Is Truly By My Side’: Maltese Woman Overcomes Countless Health Scares, From Brain Tumour, Thrombosis, Breast Cancer To Lymphoedema

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A Maltese woman has opened up about the countless times she’s overcome serious health scares, including a brain tumour, kidney failure, lymphoedema and even paralysis.

“I believe that one must accept whatever life throws at them,” Vivienne Sammut begins in a new interview with The People of Malta.

She broke down a series of medical complications that she faced, and how she believes God was by her side the entire time.

“Fourteen years ago, whilst watching the funeral of Sir Anthony Mamo on TV, I fainted and was quickly taken to hospital. They found a brain tumor,” she said.

“I was operated and had a few complications. I ended up at Boffa hospital since half of my body was paralysed. And whilst at Boffa hospital I suffered thrombosis.”

“My life drastically changed,” she continued. “From being constantly active, including voluntary work and the village feast, I ended up unable to do anything.”

“I was transferred from Boffa Hospital to Mater Dei hospital. It felt like the complications just would not end. Two and a half years later I was told that one of my kidneys was enlarged. They had to remove it. I am now living with one kidney.”

In the face of constant complications, Vivienne says she tries to keep a brave face so as not to worry her husband and children.

But it doesn’t end there.

“Two years ago, on 6th March, I went for a mammogram screening. Ten days later I received a phone call because they were suspicious about the result. This time round I was diagnosed with breast cancer. At first I was told that it was small and operable, but they later found out that it was deeper than they thought.”

“I was operated on three times.”

“As a consequence of the treatment, or on account of the cancer itself, I developed lymphoedema, which in my case is a swelling in my armpit and down my left arm due to a build-up of lymph fluid in the body,” she noted.

“Basically, it affects the lymph nodes (the function of which can be compared to a drain through which fluid flows. If this is augmented, it results in swelling). This means that I need to visit the lymphoedema Clinic at the Physiotherapy Department in Sir Anthony Mamo hospital for regular treatment to help reduce the swelling. The patient must adapt and live with it.”

Vivienne remains grateful for everything she has. 

“God is truly by my side. I thank God I am still here. If you do not accept your circumstances it makes matters worse. Most times I keep things to myself not to worry my loved ones. I would love to be healthier; at least to be able to be a bit more independent. My fear is that I become dependent on others, something I do not wish for.”

“When I am in hospital and come across sick children I ask the Lord: “Dear Lord, I have lived long. Bestow health and life on these little ones. I really feel for them.”

The interview was conducted to mark World Lymphoedma Day.

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Johnathan is Editor-in-Chief of Lovin Malta, and an award-winning Maltese journalist interested in social justice, politics, minority issues, music and food. Follow him at @supreofficialmt on Instagram, and send him news, food and music stories at [email protected]

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