Sunday, 27 November 2011

Mamadou (Hodgkin's Lymphoma) finished treatment

Mamadou finished his treatment on Saturday. And no surprise that with it being the last that it went poorly. After 7 sticks to get an IV (including one that I received by accident), Brett finally found a poorly situated vein and we were able to push the medicine and be done. Yeah!

We then went to his house to celebrate with some cake. Kristen and I discussed on the way there how their perception of cancer is so different. Most people don't understand the difference in chemotherapy and antibiotics. So I think we were actually more excited with his remission and end of treatment than the family was. It makes sense, though, as they see many more kids die from malaria. That's much more deadly here than cancer. Regardless, we are happy he is done.

The standard last picture with the cancer patient...

Mamadou's incredibly cute brothers.

Solomon (right) with a family friend who is living with them.

Solomon again

Mamadou with his father and brothers.

With his uncle, Drissa, who was responsible for his care during his treatment
I know that Mamadou didn't really smile in these pictures. He rarely ever did. I did see him have a big smile yesterday but I didn't catch it on camera. That's big for him. He always tried not to talk and not to interact with us though his uncle said he was a big talker at home. Last week he fell asleep on me as I gave his chemo. It was sweet. Yesterday he always chose to sit by me. Once as we were walking around the compound he actually grabbed my hand to hold it. I think that made my day. Even though he didn't interact with us much, it was nice to know that he did like us a little bit. :) Thankful that his treatment went well and that he is now healed!

Friday, 25 November 2011

On Thanksgiving

During the time of Thanksgiving, I can think of no better kid to introduce than Modibo. He had broken his arm two weeks ago while his father was away. The wives decided to treat it themselves (or on the advice of a traditional healer, not totally sure) and they placed a tourniquet at the top of his arm. They left this for five days. When the father arrived home and saw the arm he brought him to us. (This is just one example of why women need education...but that is a topic for another day). After five days in the tourniquet Modibo's arm was completely dead so we had to amputate it. So sad that just because of a poor decision he had to lose his arm.

However, this kid is incredibly happy. He always has a smile on his face. He is always going around greeting the nurses. I'm not sure if he fully understands what losing his arm means for his future or if he simply is a happy kid who is not brought down by his circumstances. Regardless, it is an example of thanksgiving in the face of suffering.
We have much to be thankful for. When I want to complain I want to remember Modibo and his happy spirit.

Just Because

These twins make me smile. Don't know them. They just happened to be at the hospital the other day. Their mom was off doing something so they were taking care of themselves. They were pretty trusting. I, a white stranger, took their picture then told them to come with me so I could give them candy. They followed and happily ate their candy. Guess they haven't learned the "don't take candy from strangers" rule yet. :) Regardless, they are so cute.

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Mahamadou- new wilm's patient

Mahamadou was seen at the main hospital in town where Doctors Without Borders is working. They brought him to us and we diagnosed the cancer. DWB wasn't sure where they would treat the kid. We lost connection with him for several weeks but thankfully we were able to contact him and tell him to come in. We started treatment this past Tuesday.

Here he is with his father. He is a sweet kid but very scared. Hopefully he will warm up to us soon...but maybe not since every time he comes here we poke him and give him medicine.

The mass is slightly hard to see but you can notice his left (right when looking at him) is protruding out.
Praying for quick healing and that he'll smile at me one day. :)

Balla (colon cancer) went home

The other week Balla went home to his village. Due to some difficult circumstances we decided it was best for them to go home a bit early. He missed the last couple of doses but since we were treating him after full resection of the cancer, there really wasn't a specific number that had to be done. The treatment was an extra measure to make sure the cancer did not return but there was no specific protocol that we were following that said we had to do treatment for X amount of weeks. All that to say he left a few weeks earlier than planned but we don't see this as a harm to him.

He is a cutie.

Taking his daily nap on the floor of the nurses' office.

A final picture with him before he left.

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Mamine is dancing

On Friday around 3:45 pm Mamine (osteosarcoma) left all her pain and suffering behind. She is now free. Though I am glad for her it is sad that she is gone.

We all have said that we couldn't believe she was hanging on so long. She had bed sores which covered her back side. She could only move one arm, nothing else. Her wounds became infected which is not surprising as they were covered in the products of her incontinence. The poor girl suffered much.

When we came to clean her on Thursday there was a noticeable change. Somehow she looked even worse than the day before. Everyone noticed it. Whereas when we cleaned her before she would cry and call my name and tell us to hurry, she didn't make a sound. No fight, no complaints. I sat with her that day and told her that she was my friend, my sister and that she was very special to me. That really was my goodbye and I knew it. I had said what I wanted to say. She asked for Carol, who has been her other mother along with me. Friday was really busy and I only stopped in for a minute before I left. She didn't talk or make much sound. Then just a few hours later I was there cleaning her wounds one last time with other nurses. This time there was no crying for there was no life. I am thankful, actually, to have been able to have that moment. I cried as I washed her, thankful that she was free but saddened to have lost a friend.

We took her back to her home. This also seemed very needed. Carol and I had been the ones who took her away at her request and listened to her and her mother cry as they left the home. Mamine knew she would never come home again. So it only seemed fitting to bring her back.

We were asked to also take the body to the burial. This was a rare thing because only men participate in the burial process in the predominant religion. Women are not allowed to go. Christians aren't allowed to go. So being white Christian women really excludes us normally. But, they needed the transport. This allowed us to witness the full process of all that goes on. It was interesting to see. I have taken other kids who have passed away back to their homes. I am always amazed at the process that takes place so quickly. Everyone has a job and they start doing it. Someone starts drawing up water from the well for washing the body. Someone goes and gets the spiritual leader for final prayers. Someone gets a group to start digging the grave. Someone else pulls out mats and goes around to neighbors to get more chairs for those who will come to greet. All the men from the surrounding houses make their way to the home to participate in the rituals that take place before burial. It is all too easy. Too comfortable. Death is a part of life. They accept that much easier than Americans do. I am not saying one way is better than the other but rather merely stating what I observe.

I'm thankful to have known Mamine. I'm thankful for her sweet heart. I'm thankful to have been able to share God's love with her in her own language. I'm thankful that though she did not receive physical healing, she found true healing in Jesus. I'm thankful that her time of suffering is over. She has no more pain. I'm thankful that now she's dancing.