Jaw Cancer

When Esther Tan* from our Oikos Fellowship asked us whether her good friend Celia and Spencer from Kuala Lumpur who were coming to Perth for her wedding could stay with us, we readily agreed. We had a good time of getting to know one another and discovered her remarkable story of a remarkable experience.


Jaw Cancer!

How will I look after this?

By Celia Yap

On June 4th 1998 I was diagnosed with oral cavity cancer in my lower right gum. The doctors who saw me remarked that it was quite rare and unusual for a person who did not smoke, drink or chew betel nut to have this kind of cancer.

At the beginning

It started with a swelling in my right side gum which I thought was just a trivial matter. I had no pain except a little discomfort. However it was really bad news when the results of the biopsy confirmed that the tumor resting on my jaw bone was cancerous.  After several tests, x-rays and scans, the doctors classified my case as 4th (final) stage oral cavity cancer, because the tumor was about 3-4cm in size. If surgery was performed, it would give me a 60% chance of living for a further five years. For a moment I felt my world caved in…but  I felt grateful that I knew Jesus and I had to trust Him to heal me.


The doctors recommended 3 sessions of chemotherapy to hopefully shrink the tumor before surgery. The proposed surgery would involve removing the lower part of my face on the right, taking out at least 8 cm of my lower right jawbone and reconstructing a new jawbone using my fibula bone from my leg, a bit of my pelvic bone and skin grafts from my leg, arm and chest. I was told to expect disfigurement of my face and inability to smile normally. Furthermore, to remove the lymph nodes and to prevent the spread of cancer cells, part of my neck muscles and tissues would have to be cut away thus leaving a dent in my neck. The surgeon warned that the surgery would take almost 25 hours to perform if there were no complications. We were asked to decide whether we wanted to proceed with his proposal.

Stood together

Both my husband and I were stunned at the drastic proposal. My husband Spencer who had been a very independent man up to then was confused and desperate. On June 9th 1998, he accepted Jesus Christ into his life and became a Christian. Now as Christians together, we committed our difficult situation to the Lord praying for guidance and direction about the right doctor and treatment. A good friend from Singapore who knew our plight arranged for me to see a doctor in Singapore for a second opinion. The day before leaving for Singapore, my husband surprised me by suggesting that I should get someone with a healing ministry to pray for me. I then met the late Brother J.S. Devaraj for prayer.


When he prayed for me, I felt the powerful presence of the Holy Spirit. I experienced a gush of electricity going through my body and passing out of my finger tips. While that was going on, I felt so much love and gratitude towards the Lord that I kept on uttering aloud, “Thank You, Jesus!” and “I love You, Jesus!”   When the sensation of the electricity subsided, I felt confident that the Lord was going to heal me.

The next day, I proceeded to Singapore. To my surprise, my friend had arranged for me to see a well-known plastic surgeon. He performed another biopsy which confirmed that the tissue on my right jaw bone was cancerous. However, the MRI test taken 36 hours after I had been prayed for, showed that the tumor was only 1.6 cm long! It had shrunk without any chemotherapy! The doctor suggested that it would be necessary to remove my jawbone…but if the lower half of it was not contaminated with cancer, then it could be saved and it would not be necessary to remove the fibula from my leg for reconstruction of my jawbone.  I felt HOPE!

It was also still necessary to dissect my neck and remove the lymph nodes which would have most likely been affected by cancer.  However the doctor assured me that my face and facial skin would remain intact. It was quite a relief to hear that the surgery would then be less drastic and would take a maximum of only 12 hours.

Surgery was fixed for the following week in Singapore, giving me another 8 days of prayer and healing. Right up to the morning before the operation, I submitted myself totally to the Lord. A team of 6 surgeons and doctors operated on me. Surprise, Surprise! The operation took only 6 ½ hours.  On waking up, I immediately reached down to touch my left leg. Praise the Lord! My fibula bone was intact!

The operation was a success. The doctors discovered that they could still make use of half of the right jawbone and therefore the fibula from my left leg was spared.  Further, samples from the lymph nodes taken at the beginning of the surgery showed that there was no trace of cancer!  There was NO NEED to do a neck dissection. The doctors only needed the skin from my arm to replace the gum that was cut away from my mouth. The tissues removed from my mouth and neck were all sent for histopathology tests and the findings came back negative. Except for the 1.6 cm tumor, everything else surrounding it was clear of cancer cells. Based on the report, my doctors concluded that I was 100% cured. There was no need for any treatment of radiotherapy or chemotherapy.  My stay in the hospital was only for ten days. The medical staff were amazed at my fast recovery.

How good the Lord Jesus is! When I was first diagnosed with 4th stage oral cavity cancer, the doctor gave me 60% chance to live for 5 years!  Seventeen (17) years have already gone by and I am still enjoying  good health.  All praise, thanks and glory to the Lord for allowing me to experience His healing power in an awesome way! I will always remember His word in Philippians 1:6 for the comfort and promise it gave me:  “He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion.”  END

Celia Yap

Celia is continuing the good work God began in her by serving in the Elijah House ministry. She is also a deaconess in her church in KL.

*See also Esther’s story “A Spiritual Makeover” and “Wedding bells” (posted 5 Mar.2015)


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