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Darla Perkins – lipoma tumor success story

Giving the gift of confidence

Darla Perkins – lipoma tumor success story Darla Perkins has a new outlook on life
after D. Rohan Jeyarajah, MD, FACS (center),
connected her to David R. Kang, DDS, MS,
FACS (left), who removed a facial tumor
she’d had for years.

“They’re my heroes.” These are the words Darla Perkins uses to describe D. Rohan Jeyarajah, MD, FACS, and David R. Kang, MD, DDS, MS, FACS. In fact, she credits these surgeons on the Methodist Dallas Medical Center medical staff with saving her life.

Darla’s story goes back eight years. She was living in Australia, running a jewelry company, and in a happy relationship.

Then one morning, she noticed a small lump on the lower left side of her face. At first, she chalked it up to a bug bite or an allergic reaction, but it was diagnosed as a benign fatty tumor called a lipoma. Surgeons both abroad and in the U.S. refused to remove it, afraid of causing facial paralysis.

“One doctor said he wouldn’t touch it with a 10-foot pole,” Darla says.

As the tumor grew to softball size, Darla slipped into a deep depression, and daily migraines from the stress had her on disability for more than two years. In 2009 she moved back to the U.S. to be closer to family, but she still struggled.

“I was afraid to go out,” she says. “I became a total recluse. If I hadn’t had to go to work to feed myself, I probably wouldn’t have done that.”

To avert people’s stares and rude remarks, she grew her hair long, stopped wearing jewelry that would draw attention to her face, and unknowingly began walking with her head tilted down to one side.

From shrinking to standing tall

Last summer, Darla finally decided it was worth risking paralysis to no longer live in misery.

She learned one of her clients at Massage Envy in Las Colinas, Dr. Jeyarajah, was a surgeon. One day she summoned the courage to ask his opinion about the lump. He immediately offered to make some calls. The first was to Dr. Kang.

“I just think he does amazing work, and I wanted Darla to be seen by the best,” Dr. Jeyarajah says of the head and neck, maxillofacial, and oral surgeon. Dr. Jeyarajah arranged for Darla, who is uninsured, to have an MRI and see Dr. Kang that very week.

“I just feel like it was a God thing that Darla and I had that discussion that day,” Dr. Jeyarajah says. “You can’t stand by and watch somebody suffer in any way. It’s part of being a human being, but it’s also part of being a doctor.”

Inspired by Dr. Kang’s confidence that he could indeed remove the tumor safely, Darla agreed to the procedure. Dr. Kang not only successfully removed Darla’s lipoma, but he also waived all of his fees. Payment enough was seeing her come in to his office the following week.

“She was standing up straight, her hair was pulled back, her earrings were on — her life had changed dramatically,” Dr. Kang says.

“She had no complications from a facial nerve injury, and everything turned out really well for her.

“This was one of the most gratifying surgeries ever. Being a surgeon is not just a job for me; it’s an honor and a privilege to take care of patients.”

A Life Saved

Darla says that without the intervention of Drs. Jeyarajah and Kang, she wouldn’t be here today.

“They literally saved my life; I don’t think I could have lived with the lump any longer,” she says. “My confidence level has gone through the roof. I’m not afraid to live anymore.”