Life has a way of taking people by surprise and forcing them to have experiences they never imagined. Some of these experiences can be great but others are terrible.
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Jack Ma, the billionaire who founded Alibaba grew up in a poor home and suffered a lot of rejection growing up. He failed his university entrance exam three times, applied to 30 jobs when he was looking for work and was rejected from all of them.
This included a job at KFC where 24 people applied and everyone but him was hired. Jack Ma also applied for Harvard a total of 10 times and was knocked back every single time.
However, this was not to last forever. Life found a way of offering the 'king of rejections' a position in this world that most people only dream of. He is now a billionaire worth $50.6 billion.
Jack Ma mentioned in many interviews that this possibility was something he never saw coming. After being a victim of countless circumstances, he decided to simply give his all, day after day and see where that would lead him.
For Mary Adobea Agyekum, a 33-year-old Ghanaian lady, life was great and normal when she was growing up.
Yet, on one fateful day, the tables began to turn. Life was doing to Mary, the reverse of what it did to Jack Ma. Mary's health came crumbling down. She was diagnosed with tuberculosis of the spine in her prime years.
Mary's condition only got worse over time until she got stuck on her bed for days that crept into weeks and months.
For 12 months, the vibrant single mother could not carry herself around. Mary suffered a total loss of nerve sensations in her lower body. She was constantly in pain from the upper part of her body and completely dependent like a century-old grandmother.
Uncomfortable about what their young daughter going through, Mary's family decided to seek help anywhere they can find one.
As one of them recalls,
"we went to about four big TV and radio stations, met with their directors and explained our plight to them but they said no assistance could be offered to us as it was in the midst of COVID-19"
The family persisted in the search for help and finally got one from GHOne TV who agreed to air Mary's story and solicit financial assistance from the general public.
A team of journalists from the station visited Mary to record footage of how she struggled through each day and badly wished to see a different kind of day.
The video was aired on TV and circulated on social media.
In less than 21 days, over GHc 100,000 (N6.6million) was raised by the general public to support the young lady.
She had been scheduled for two surgeries that cost a total of GHC 98,400 at an orthopaedic hospital.
GHC 34,000 (N2.2million) was obtained through direct donations into Mary's mobile money account whilst the rest came through third-party sources.
Within six months, the procedure was completed and the 33-year-old mother is fully back on her feet.
The team of journalists that covered her story of pain were back at Mary's house only to find her busily preparing the local dish "banku" for her family.
Gratitude to Ghanaians
In a short documentary encompassing the healing journey of the young mother, she expressed gratitude to the general public for their immense financial support.
According to her, life is indeed back to normal as she does not get carried around whenever she needs to be at a different location.
Mary went on her knees with her eyes filled with tears and said:
"Thank you to all loving Ghanaians who helped me to be on my feet again. God bless you richly. Now when people see me, they feel happy and thank God for my life. And it is all because you all showed me mercy".
To the media organization that helped her, Mary Adobea Agyekum's words were:
"Your name will never be forgotten, GHOne. I pray God will continue to bless you and give you the support you need."
Future prospects of Mary Adobea Agyekum
Mary disclosed when she was ill that one of her biggest aspirations for which she sought to get healed was to be strong enough to take care of her four-year-old son.
She explained that although her pain was excruciating when the doctors were attending to her, she kept praying for her son to become like one of them.
The former tuberculosis patient revealed that growing up, she wanted to be a nurse but could not get the financial assistance to do so.
She, therefore, badly wants to work hard and support her son to become a health professional in the future
This will probably be the main focus of Mary's life, now that she is healed from her sickness.
Aside from that, Mary's mother is an ageing woman who would increasingly need to be supported by her daughter.
When it comes to spinal tuberculosis, its recurrence after surgery is not uncommon. In fact, single-institution studies have reported surgical recurrence rates of as low as 1.28%.
If this figure is something to go by, Mary would likely never have to deal with the disease again in her lifetime.
Tuberculosis of the spine
Spinal tuberculosis is, according to Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov, one of the oldest diseases in the history of the human race.
The disease, also called Pott's spine, has been found in Egyptian mummies dating back to 3400 BC.
The exact incidence and prevalence of spinal tuberculosis in most parts of the world are not known but in countries with a high burden of pulmonary tuberculosis, the incidence is expected to be proportionately high.
The disease is uncommon in the western world and most of the patients with spinal tuberculosis in developed countries are found to be immigrants from countries where tuberculosis is endemic.
Spinal tuberculosis can result in the destruction, collapse of vertebrae, and angulation of the vertebral column.
The total duration of the illness varies from few months to few years, with the average disease duration ranging from four to about 11 months.
Mary was knocked really hard by life. But humanity came to her aid to deliver her from the painful claws of a rare disease. The 33-year-old, her son and her mother are grateful that hardships in life can be overcome by the synergy of humanity.
Rahaman Abiola is a result-oriented journalist and content writer with a firm grip of over 5-year corporate experience stranding diverse roles in digital & traditional media and social media communication.
A published literary writer, freelancer and public commentator, he has written over 100 essays covering diverse issues on economy, politics and current affairs, entertainment and leadership published in virtually all notable Nigerian national dailies and digital media in Nigeria.
He is a graduate of English Literature, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife. Follow him on Twitter via @ShugabanR.