By Joan Rhoden
Come on, Vicki, dance with Me.
These were strange words for a Pentecostal pastors wife to
hear. Born and reared in a traditional Assemblies of God family, Vicki
Qualls was not exactly savvy to ballroom etiquette. She laughed out
loud as she sensed in her spirit that God was speaking and wanted
to take the lead.
But Im getting a little ahead of my story.
In October 1998, after what was supposed to be a routine surgical
procedure, it was discovered that Vicki had cancer. The type of cancer
was determined to be uterine and ovarian and very aggressive. A complete
hysterectomy was performed, followed by six months of precautionary
chemotherapy. By all appearances it was successful. Vicki was pronounced
Charles Jones, M.D., and Vicki Qualls all know the divine Surgeon
But a peculiar pain surfaced in April 2000, gnawing away at her side
and back. This time a CT scan revealed a mass attached to a muscle
in her back and wrapped around her aorta. It was deemed inoperable
because of its location and hemorrhaging potential. The news wasnt
as shocking as the first time, but it was certainly more devastating.
So much so that it literally bowled Vicki over she fainted.
"I didnt know that happened in real life," says Vicki. "I thought
that only happened in Southern novels."
The joking quickly vanished as Vicki and her husband, Lowell, went
home to wrestle with God over what action to pursue. What does faith
require? Doing nothing and expecting God to take over? Or exhausting
all human options and then watching God step in? After much prayer
and research, the Quallses opted for an extreme nutritional plan as
well as a new, mild form of chemo with fewer side effects.
At this point, Vicki became enveloped in an unexplainable blanket
of joy and peace. She talked to her church family at Trinity Assembly
of God in Richmond, Va., explaining what was happening to her. Then,
again, at the Potomac District Ministers Institute, she addressed
her colleagues with a message of hope that whether she was healed
or not, God would be glorified and people drawn to Him. She thanked
her peers for passionately praying for her healing. "But whether I
live or die," she assured them, "I win. My future is secure in heaven."
She urged them to pray with equal passion for unsaved friends whose
eternal destinies werent secure.
As she suffered during lonely days and nights, a new friendship with
Jesus emerged. It was while Vicki walked and talked with her Friend
that the "dance with Me" invitation came. It also dawned on her that
God had prepared her for this trial.
Seven years earlier, in 1991, she had penned a curious journal entry.
She was attending a Womens Ministries Getaway and heard Marigold
Cheshiers vibrant testimony of her healing from cancer. The
atmosphere was charged with faith. When she returned to her room,
Vicki wrote: "Im tired of being ordinary
I long for Gods
power to work in me and through me to touch others." Then she wrote
about a strange foreboding that swept over her. She felt that God
was going to allow her to deal with a personal tragedy maybe
even cancer. Whatever happened, it would be all right. "Pain could
be my friend," she wrote.
The seven years between the journal entry and her illness were laden
with other challenges. Her sons, Brandon and Chris, went through some
teen-age prodigal years. But they both returned to the Lord, are filled
with the Spirit and alive with faith today. Her husband battled a
debilitating siege of depression for 18 months.
So God had been at work, time and again proving himself trustworthy.
Vicki let God take the lead.
Then more bad news. The nutritional plan and chemotherapy were not
working. The tumor continued to grow. Ultimately, it grew to the size
of a football, pressing on her back and protruding from her right
side. She decided to stop all treatment, placing her future in Gods
In January 2001, a new scan got her doctors immediate attention.
With guarded excitement he told her, "I dont understand what
has happened, but your tumor is now positioned differently. It no
longer appears to be attached to your aorta, and it seems to have
a clear margin almost all the way around it." It had encased itself
in what he described as a thick, leathery shell and looked like it
Surgery was scheduled for January 26. A vascular transplant surgeon
was called in to help Charles Jones, her gynecologic oncologist. Two
units of blood were on standby in preparation for a potential transfusion.
The operating room at Henrico Doctors Hospital in Richmond, Va., was
reserved for a four-hour surgery. Dr. Jones was confident for he knew
the divine Surgeon.
After just two hours he appeared in the waiting lounge, grinning
from ear to ear. "Pastor Lowell," he said to Vickis husband,
"Ive never seen anything like this. It came out!" He hardly
had to cut removing it mostly with his hands. No transfusion
Two days later the pathology report revealed the healthy tissue around
the perimeter of the tumor was cancer-free, but the most amazing thing
of all was the tumor itself. Its blood supply had been cut off. The
cancer cells inside were either dead or in the process of dying
an "abortive state," the doctors called it. God had destroyed all
the cells, and because of that no follow-up treatment was recommended.
"Ive never seen this before in all my years of practice," says
Dr. Jones. "As physicians God has provided us with tools and gifts
to treat our patients, but these gifts have limitations that only
God can overcome with miracles. God has blessed all of us with His
miraculous intervention in this healing."
How does she feel about what has happened? "Im awestruck,"
Vicki says. "Its been a very serious, awesome, holy thing. It
is just Gods grace no merit of mine."
Questions still face the players in this medical drama: What does
God want us to do with this experience? What do we say to people who
are still praying for healing? "Were all going to die," Vicki
has told some of her friends who struggle with cancer. "Some of us
just die sooner than others. The most important thing is our relationship
with God and how we live out whatever days He gives us."
Vicki Qualls will never be the same again. She is healed and
is dancing with her Healer.
Joan Rhoden lives in Fairfax, Va., and is the
wife of H. Robert Rhoden, superintendent of the Potomac District of
the Assemblies of God.