Stories of Care -1

Stories of Care -1

by Sr. Marian Scena MMM             U.S.A./Tanzania              06.06.2023

Recently, a 28 year old high school teacher came to be admitted to our Faraja Hospice and Palliative care Programme in Singida, Tanzania. His name is “James”. Four years ago, James got a rash below his left eye which developed into a tumor. He did all the correct things: he went to a specialist hospital, had three different surgeries, received both chemotherapy and radiation treatment but the tumor kept coming back.

Now James is in the last stage of life with a grotesque cancer that has grossly disfigured his face and head! What could we do for him? First, we listened to his story and how this disaster was affecting his life. He seemed at peace with his condition knowing that he had tried every available form of treatment. Thank God, James doesn’t have pain but it is difficult finding a comfortable position for sleeping. He is still able to eat soft food. His father is very sad but understands his son’s condition, as did James’ mother who was taking care of him day and night.

He is also cared for by his older brother who, it seemed to our palliative care team, was in a state of denial at the beginning. When I tried to talk with the brother, he got very angry and kept saying that James was fine! James lives outside our catchment area, so we can’t visit him at home like we usually do for our patients. But we keep frequent contact by phone with James and his father and brother take turns coming for medications and bandages. We are able to give them psycho-social support regularly.

With Hospice and Palliative Care in Africa we often are unable to do all that we would love to do for our patients because of distance and lack of resources. But we have a saying in palliative care that encourages us – We can’t do EVERYTHING for the patient, but we can ALWAYS DO SOMETHING!

We will continue to journey with James for as long as he is alive. We continue to try and help his family come to terms with this terrible disease and will continue to accompany them when James leaves this earth. And this gives me hope – that we can ease the suffering of others!


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