WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – For nearly five years, Wichitan Tammy Williams lived with a painful abdominal hernia. It happened after a resection colon surgery and a staph infection.

“It just grew and grew, grew very rapidly till it was huge,” said 56-year-old Tammy Williams.

The hernia prevented her from working and even simple tasks, like opening a door. Williams was forced to live on disability.

“I just did not feel like a whole person, I honestly did not. I was so depressed over not being able to do things for myself,” she said.

The hernia was cutting off her stomach circulation. It caused chronic wounds and moved multiple organs out of place.

“I had went and seen, consulted with six different surgeons here in the Wichita area, and they all refused because of some chronic wounds,” Williams said. “But if I did not have the surgery, the wounds would not go away.”

She had almost given up, until she found Doctor Ragnar Peterson.

“We’re really like the humane society for hernias and abdominal wall problems with the state of Kansas. We take care of all the problems that no one else really knows what to do with anymore,” said Dr. Peterson, a staff surgeon with Ascension Via Christi.

Dr. Peterson agreed to do his part and perform the surgery, as long as Williams did hers. She needed to lose 35 pounds and quit smoking.

“When Dr. Peterson told her that he can help her. She was very motivated” said Nicole Pracht, a registered nurse with Ascension Via Christi. “She wanted a change. She wanted to feel better.”

After months of work, Williams did. In May, Dr. Peterson and Pracht were able to successfully complete the surgery.

“They were so encouraging,” Williams said with tears in her eyes. “I love them. I never thought… never thought I would get my life back.”

“It actually goes the other way, we’re grateful for her. It’s an honor. It’s a privilege to be able to do this job,” Dr. Peterson said. “We’re grateful for her attitude.”

As of August, Williams is officially off disability and working full time in a rehabilitation center. She says she is very thankful to be able to cook for her family this Thanksgiving.