Thursday, August 27, 2009

Help, Hope and Healing

As I walked onto C ward, I saw the lineup of patients who had slept on the floor since all the beds were occupied with other patients. One patient caught my eye. She was sitting with a scarf wrapped high around her neck and lower part of her face. I knew she was hiding something under that scarf, and was drawn to her to find out what it could be. I scanned her chart and saw Susan had admitted her, and Bill was considering the diagnosis of Burkitt's Lymphoma. Bill showed up to see her shortly after this, so I asked him about her case. It turns out in the past 4 months this mass has rapidly grown from the left side of her face and neck. She had gone to another hospital 5 times, but they only gave her medicine, nothing else. She came to us seeking help, hope, and healing which the other hospital didn't offer. Bill can help, God has given him a great mind as a physician. Helping patients is the reason why he is here, why he stays, why he loves patient care. Helping when others won't or can't, is a privilege he has here. A little boy in the USA, after seeing pictures of patients in Africa and PNG, once asked Bill if it was hard to care for these sick people every day. He responded, "It is far harder to know the suffering that exists, to be called to serve and to help, knowing there is something that can be done, and to fail to do so." So he continues to help patients who walk through our doors, just as he has for the past 20yrs as a missionary. So with eyes of compassion, and the hands of Christ, Bill led her from the ward to the ER where he helped her. He took a biopsy of the tumor to determine the diagnosis and gave her chemotherapy to shrink the tumor. Help we can offer. Bill had hope. He hoped that this was a Burkitt's Lymphoma, a cancer that is very responsive to chemotherapy and one that we have seen shrink before our eyes in other patients. He also hoped that somehow, someway, by God's grace, Maria might have a normal life again. As Bill walked with her from the ward to the ER to do the biopsy, he caught a glimpse of her life. Every person they walked by stopped, stared, and stepped back from her, as if she was a monster or a leper from Biblical times. This is why she keeps her neck wrapped with a scarf, this is why she needs hope. She too caught onto Bill's hope. After administering chemo, Bill talked to her about going home and returning in a few weeks, while we see how the tumor responded and await the biopsy result. She replied that she wanted to stay until the tumor was all gone, she believed it would be. Hope, yes we can offer hope. Healing, Jesus does this. The sign outside our hospital says, We Treat, Jesus Heals. God has given us the knowledge and the resources to care for the diseases and conditions patients have, but He does the healing work. He uses medicine, or His own healing power, to restore people to health and life. However, the real healing occurs spiritually. The hurt, the shame, the rejection Maria feels won't be cured if the tumor shrinks; medicine can't do that. God's love, grace, and mercy, alone, can and will do this. Maria came to us without help, hope, or healing. She left after being helped by Bill's compassionate hands which were an extension of the hands of Christ. She left with a hope the cancer might be cured, or at least reduced with chemotherapy. She left with healing, knowing there is a God who heals, who loves, and who died for her. If you would like to learn more about how you too can help Maria, and others with cancer, go to Nazarene Compassionate Ministries website Kudjip Nazarene Hospital/Chemotherapy