Sunday, 22 December 2019

Touching:My Encounter With Female Cancer Patient Told By US Doctors She Has Few Weeks To Live..By Azuka Jebose


Late evening came early on Friday. Long  winter nights are here, so night falls early. Inside the reception hall of Wake Medical  Heart Center was this tiny dainty lady, standing and looking through the glass walls. She was waiting for her ride .

As I came out from the elevator, her  loud gasp and weak coughs caught my attention. I felt she needed help.  She wheezed and  struggled to cough. I was leaving the center after a visit to a dear friend, on admission. So I approached her and asked if she was alright. Her voice was frail, her hands pressing her chest; she explained that she had been waiting for her taxicab.

It’s getting late and she was tired and weak.Her treatment was weakening her, outside was getting colder and darker, she needed to return home to rest and be with her son. She was getting frustrated that the taxicab was late. I volunteered to give  her a ride to her home. She looked up at me and said: “oh, thank you, my brother”.

Her exotic   middle Eastern accent was beholden. The hallway lights bounced on her silver long hair to glow. I reached out my hand and held her as we walked slowly but cautiously towards the exit door. Age, illness and time have faded her beauty. Despite her circumstance, the traces of an aura were still visible. Outside the building, I asked her to wait so I could fetch my car from the hospital’s parking lot. A few minutes later, she was riding in the front passenger seat of my car.

Sundiata and her husband left Afghanistan 35 years ago to live in the United States. They were newly married and had a six-month-old daughter when they left their homeland to this dreamland.

Soon after settling into the American Life, Sundiata and her Afghanistan  husband were blessed with a second child, a son, born with osteoporosis. The health challenges of their only son would drive her husband,  a strict and conservative ideal of fatherhood and first son, into a life of extramarital affairs and abandonment of the family. In 1999, Sundiata’s husband walked away from the family, traveled back to Afghanistan and married a new wife. Sundiata was left alone to care for a disabled son and a brilliant daughter….

Seven years ago, Sundiata was diagnosed with breast cancer. Through those years, she tried various cancer treatments, including aggressive chemotherapy. She was also the caregiver of her disabled son whose illness confined him to the wheelchair.  Each sunrise, cancer would spread and attack Sundiata’s vital organs. About three months ago, cancer spread to her lungs. Yesterday, doctors at WakeMedical told her that there was nothing else they could do for her. Yesterday was her last visit to explore other treatments for lung cancer. The doctors told her, in subtle ways, that her cancer was beyond redemption.They also would not recommend any more treatments as it appeared that her lung cancer is terminal.

She was free with me, a stranger, an immigrant like her: I guessed that was why she decided to share her story with me during that fifteen-minute ride to her home. Coincidentally, she lives about five minutes from my subdivision: this thing called faith sef!

As we approached her street, I asked her if she was afraid of death and if she would forgive her husband:

Her responses were stunning:” Allah is the great maker and taker of life. So It's in Allah’s hands. I am 60 years old now and forgiveness is not what I need now….I will not forgive my husband. I am a strict Muslim woman. I have been alone with my children since he left. It is against my religion to remarry. He walked away from us. I will consider forgiving him if he apologized….”

I  thought about taking her pictures for this story, but I didn’t want to make her life a spectacle. She deserves privacy and dignity the remainder of her life:  hence I am using the picture of Wake Heart Center to illustrate this story.

Say a prayer for Sundiata. I hope your Friday bests mine..

Azuka Jebose is a veteran Nigerian journalist resident in the US

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