She was carried in complaining of vaginal bleeding for nine months. Her history was classic: positive pregnancy test in March, miscarriage in April, D&C (an operation to clear out the uterus) done in April, June and again in September secondary to continued vaginal bleeding. Now it was January and she was still bleeding. The conclusion (confirmed with ultrasound, a quantitative ß-HCG and chest x-ray) . . . she had choriocarcinoma with metastasis –this is a cancer in the uterus that if caught in the right time can be treated with chemotherapy. The looming questions were: did we need to do a hysterectomy? (This is a hard decision for anyone, let alone in an 18 year old, especially when out here being able to have and bear children is very important.) Did we have enough of the medication to adequately treat her cancer without compromising other patients currently being treated for Burkitt’s lymphoma? Would she follow-through on her treatments and labs that needed to be done? Should we treat her? The family’s question, “How can we afford any of this??” Theirs was a daily struggle of food, not one of the future.
In it simplest form poverty is defined as lack of income to live. In its broader form, poverty is defined not only by a level of income but access to a minimum level of resource –health care, education, etc.. Anyway you look at it this family was poor.
There were many questions that we struggled with. Why was this caught so late? We are doctors tasked with the diagnosis and the treatment of medical/surgical conditions. We did not receive training with respect to choosing who should have a chance at life and who should not. We do not want that responsibility, and yet here it is. God, if it is you will, please take this burden from us and if it is not, please give us the wisdom to know how to minister to this young girl and her family.
After talking with the hospital pastors we decided, anonymously, to use some of the money received by our supports to pay for her present and future medical bills –she would need weekly chemotherapy with additional lab tests –and also to help her family with transportation and food costs. In starting her treatment, we decided to wait on the hysterectomy in hopes that the chemotherapy may save the uterus.
When she didn’t come back in the next week for her second chemo treatment, we were wondering what happened. We finally got a hold of someone in her family and found out she had been bleeding heavily again and was very weak. We told the family they had to bring her in. This time the decision was made that she needed to have a hysterectomy, or she might not make it. It was during this hospitalization that she made the decision to surrender her life to Christ!
The decision to accept Christ is fantastic for multiple reasons. In this case, it was a reflection of how God had been working in her life, and the time spent with the patient, in an hour of need, to not only tell her that she mattered and was loved, but also to show her. This is the argument for Christ –his example. This young girl heard and was shown the message of Christ because of the pastors and staff at HBB. They, the pastors and the staff, are here because of ABWE & Samaritans Purse. ABWE & SP are here because of Christians who listen to God’s leading and thus give selflessly. Christians are here because of Christ and his example. Where is the equivalence in today’s society? His example transcends cultures, laws, regulations and systems.
Hard decisions then needed to be made for when did we need to restart the chemo after the surgery. The plan was made for two weeks afterwards. She never made it for her third round of chemo. She came back in about a week and a half later with an infection and died about three days later. This was a hard loss for the family and for us. Was this a life that was lost? No. Yes, she died but she now has life after death with God –no more sorrows, no more tears, praising God, and surrounded by his love!
Thank you for helping this girl to find love and salvation through Christ Jesus in this dark world. Please keep praying for the family that in the midst of their hurt and grief that the love that was shown to them and their daughter while she was at HBB will also allow them to follow their daughter in her spiritual decision.
Thank you again so much for listening to God’s calling in your life to give and pray and thus helping to make an eternal difference!