From a ‘Vegetable’ to Dancing With The Stars: ‘God Was at Work the Whole Way’
Victoria Arlen spent four years of her childhood in a vegetative state. She was “locked in” her body, unable to eat or move. She was unable to talk with anyone except Jesus. Now she’s a contestant on ABC’s Dancing With The Stars.
“God is one hundred percent the one who brought Victoria through,” her mom Jacqueline says. “This journey is the most amazing thing to ever happen to our family.”
A “Vegetable” All Her Life — They Said
Victoria was 11 years old when she began having symptoms of two rare illnesses that caused her brain and spinal cord to swell, reported LifeSiteNews. She began to lose function in her arms and legs. She couldn’t think what she wanted to say. Shortly after, her body shut down. She was diagnosed as being in a Permanent Vegetative State (PVS).
I got my life back for a reason. I got my voice back for a reason. I shouldn’t be here, by medical standards. I wouldn’t choose this life, but I wouldn’t change it.”
Doctors couldn’t figure out what was wrong. Even in her “locked in” state, Victoria heard medical experts give up on her. She says she was “constantly hearing doctors tell my family that it was highly unlikely that I would survive and if I did survive I’d be a ‘vegetable’ the rest of my life.”
Victoria’s mom says that nobody other than God could hear her daughter. “So that’s Who she convened with on a daily basis,” she explains.
“I made a promise with God,” Victoria explains. “If You give me this second chance at life, I promise You I will not waste a single moment.”
One moment that stands out to the family is when Father John Bashobora from Uganda prayed over Victoria in 2009. “He is such a good part of her healing,” said Jacqueline. “And so many other prayers along the way … we truly believe God was at work the whole way.”
An Arduous Process
The journey back was an arduous process. Victoria eventually came out of PVS paralyzed from the waist down, but persevered to regain the use of her legs. Victoria posted on Facebook, “I trusted in God’s plan and believed in something greater, and I am beyond grateful that I can stand here today, sharing my story.”
Now she will be competing on Dancing With The Stars. “It’s all God,” said her mother. Beyond her miraculous healing, Victoria has Paralympic swimming wins, a job as an ESPN analyst, the book deal and now the DWTS competition.
Victoria now holds life dear. “I’ve had my whole world ripped away from me, but I’ve gotten it back and I’ve picked up the pieces,” she told E-Online. “I got my life back for a reason. I got my voice back for a reason. I shouldn’t be here, by medical standards.” She added, “I wouldn’t choose this life, but I wouldn’t change it.”
Jacqueline says that her hope is that Victoria’s story brings people to Jesus. “That’s what we want to do, to bring them to find God’s light and love, to give faith and hope, and to realize that all is not lost. That you can do all things through Christ Who strengthens you. That’s what we really want at the end of the day.”
Jacqueline’s book Locked In that will be released May 2018. She also shares her story on Facebook.