FOR ABOUT TWO MONTHS Meredith Hinds could not talk.
He couldn’t utter a word.
His mouth was moving but the words just weren’t coming out.
In his mind, he was talking loudly for all around to hear.
Hinds simply could not speak.
A cancerous tumour discovered on his throat had silenced him.
But that was just for a short time.
Hinds, who was diagnosed on his 45th birthday back in April 2000, not only got back his voice some years ago but is also preaching at the pulpit.
This assistant pastor of the Goodland New Testament Church of God is just happy he was healed.
Hinds told his story back in 2000, just months of he had fought his health battle.
Today, 16 years later, he revisited the story, relating the details of what happened, his closer walk with God and the support he got from his wife Ruth and children Rommel and Daniel.
Sitting at his comfortable home in St James on Thursday evening, Hinds remembered the small lump that appeared on the right side of his neck, which he said kept growing and growing.
At the time he was at the University of the West Indies working as an accounts clerk there, while sharing part-time ministry with Ruth, who is pastor at the Goodland church.
“I did notice the swelling and I went to the doctor once or twice. I was praying a lot too. What I didn’t know was that it was growing at the back of my neck on the inside and it was pushing everything to the left side – my airway, my voice box,” he said.
Went to hospital
Hinds had gone to the hospital on the day of his 45th birthday – not about the lump on his neck but another matter.
However, on his way home around 3 p.m. he remembered feeling “awful”.
“I could hardly breathe. I went to the pharmacy and he sent me back tot the doctor who then sent me straight to the hospital,” he said, laughing as he recalled he never got home to celebrate his birthday.
Instead he was on a hospital bed.
Xrays taken showed that he had to have an emergency operation.
He could not breathe properly, he said, and cringing, he remembered he had to be awake for for the operation in which a device had to be inserted into his trachea.
He felt everything, he said, as they put his “bow tie” (trachea) in his throat.
The following day, there were several tests and a biopsy showed that the lump in his neck was malignant.
He then had to undergo five to six hours of surgery.
“After, the doctor said he did not remove the tumor because the cancer cells had spread so rapidly. They had attached to the main artery of the brain and spread to the spinal chord and he said he could not “dig” or else it would cause a stroke,” he said.
With a straight face, Hinds said: “I told them thanks”.
The doctor said there was only one thing he could do, recommend radiation which would kill off the cancer cells.
Hinds, who turns 61 on Tuesday, was having none of it.
“I said I would not be accepting radiation,” he said, laughing and turning to Ruth who was sitting close by listening.
“They told my wife to try to talk some sense into me,” he said laughing heartily.
Hinds’ rationale as it related to radiation was simple.
“If you as doctors cannot expose yourself to radiation why should I let you put it in me?” he reasoned.
Hinds, who celebrated his 46th birthday as a Christian on January 20, said up to that point he had spent years preaching all over Barbados that Jesus was a healer.
“The time had come for me to prove him. I told them I would trust God to heal me. I was a very determined and focused man,” he said resolutely.
Hinds, who admitted at the time he was deemed a crazy man, remembered going home from the hospital, and on the same day, turning on his television to TBN. The two words “divine reversal”, from a preacher ministering have never left him.
Ruth also heard the same message and echoed the impact it had on the couple going forward.
“I would never forget those words. We have seen God divinely reversing that situation,” she said.
During a subsequent visit the doctor asked Hinds if his wife spoke to him as yet. “I said no, the Lord spoke to her”.
Ruth was also given specific instructions from her husband to gather all the pray warriors to pray for him.
Over the years, the goitre which is visible, has grown but as Hinds said, “it doesn’t interfere with me, and I don’t plan to interfere with it”.
Don’t think for one minute though it was an easy ride. Ruth said it was anything but.
In fact, she said it was a very scary and humbling experience.
She also confessed that initially she thought the father of her four children and husband of 38 going on 39 years was going to die.
Surgeon Vincent Clarke, who operated on Hinds, even told her that Hinds should have been dead, she recounted.
Doctors never even expected him to ever talk again, she said, based on the way the cancer cells were attached to his voice box.
“The doctor said to me once ‘your husband is a miracle’. He said he knew what he saw when he went in. The fact that he is still alive and he is breathing, that is a miracle,” she said glancing at her husband.
Ruth said through it all they both had put God at the core.
“I remember sitting with his mother while he was in surgery and we were comforting each other. We didn’t know what the outcome would be. We had and still have faith in God to hold us, help us, lead us. We never lost our faith,” she said.
Hinds said even though he looked in the mirror at times and reminded himself ‘God will do it’ there were those moments when ‘Satan would drive fear in you’.”
Now, Hinds doesn’t focus on the rocky road he once walked.
“I take it one day at a time. I never stopped planning things because I know I am healed,” he said.
“I remember someone I knew had gone into remission and I had some fear. The Holy Spirit said ‘You are healed’ so I will not come out of remission. That settled it for me and since them nothing bothered me,” he said.
Hinds, who has taught calligraphy at Springer Memorial School every Thursday for the last three years and will be teaching a class in this skill at his home in a couple months, remembered his first words he spoke after regaining his voice.
“I can talk now,” were the words he spoke to his wife over the phone.
He then preached his first message in August that year.
In 2000 Hinds had vowed to write a book.
He made good on that promise two years later and The Day The Preacher was Silenced … but Cancer Lost the Battle was published was published.
A second edition was printed in 2012.
The couple, who isn’t just strong in faith but also love, believe “you need to keep love vibrant”.
Hinds is now planning his 40th honeymoon with his wife.
He doesn’t believe in anniversaries.
“An anniversary is for an old building and things archaic. When it comes to relationships, there should be honey in there. I check my honey level every year and I always plan to put more honey in the moon,” he said laughing heartily.
Both Hinds and his wife are Network Services counselors. Ruth ministers to children every day in her job as a guidance counselor at Deighton Griffith School, something she has done for the last 25 years.
“It has given me direction and blessed me with a lovely woman and four children. He has blessed me with a home. God has been good to me.” (CM)