Thursday, 13 October 2011

Esther's mastectomy

Sometime in August, while I was still relatively new to the ship, I was handed my assignment sheet and noticed a diagnosis I hadn't yet seen here before.  Mastectomy.  Working on the General ward, there were a lot more males coming in for hernias etc than anything else, and to see a female admission for a mastectomy was definitely not something I was expecting.  I found out later that there's a specific surgeon that will do a few on the ship if it looks like it's localized and the person is willing to take medications for 5 years.

Esther walked in with all the other patients, settled in easily and I got ready to try and use some sort of broken english as my fake Krio, in hopes that she might understand a little of what I said.  Only to swiftly realize that she understood English much better than I could hope to speak Krio.  Which made talking to her about the ward, what to expect and what her operation would involve much easier... and harder.  Harder because there was no middle person, no buffer zone.  It was her and I, talking about the fact that she would soon loose her breast in hopes of battling breast cancer in the only way we could offer here.  There would be no chemo treatment, no radiation.  There are pills she will take for the next 5 years, but all they do is decrease risk of reoccurance.  She understood all too well.  But she was pleasant, happy for the chance at an operation she likely couldn't get here without Mercy Ships.
She was not my patient for the next week, but I saw her frequently, and it wasn't an easy recovery.  I can't honestly ever recall her complaining.  There was a small complication that meant she stayed almost an extra month to heal up.  She got to know the nurses and the patients.  She came to us with encouraging words. She wrote goodbye notes to nurses that were going home.  She would talk about how she prayed for us.  Never focusing on herself, she instead reminded us how God is looking out for us.  One nurse told me the note she received made her feel like she was the patient and Esther was the one looking out for her.  Often at handover from days to evenings, she'd come join the nurses to sing and pray. 
Finally, in mid September she was sent home with a small wound and all the supplies to help it heal. 
And then, just this last Thursday, as I was doing my first ever shift in Outpatients, I stepped around a curtain where one of the nurses had just brought her to sit down, and a smile lit my face!  ESTHER!  The other nurse asked if I knew her and swiftly offered me the opportunity to take over, and I took it happily.  She showed me her wound... which was fully healed.  And I got the rare opportunity to not only admit a patient, but do their final discharge as well.  Such an exciting time.  Only, there was a bit of a downside... she may be back soon...
We chatted a bit, and she has a second lump, in the other breast.  She says it's been there for a year, so she doesn't think it's anything, but the plan was already in motion for her to get screened on the 21st of this month.  Pray that all goes well and the doctors make wise choices.  Pray for full healing for this beautiful, godly woman! 

I couldn't find many pictures of her, but here she is with my friend Merry.

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