Friday, November 14, 2008

Swaziland Breast Cancer Network

I have been extremely busy this past month with the Swaziland Breast Cancer Network. We saw over 600 patients for breast exams in the month of October. We will do over 80 fine needle biopsies on Thursday this week 13th November. We will not know for a couple of weeks how many may be malignant. A pathologist from a South African private lab will come to do the biopsies. We are able to do lumpectomies and mastectomies here in Swaziland. One of the ladies that we got results back on this month is 29 years old and has a very large tumor. She was told that she would need a mastectomy. She is single with no children, I thought we would never see her again after telling her that news. I attempted to call her for about 2 weeks with no success. She is a student and has been busy with classes and also avoiding my phone calls. When I finally reached her I asked her to return to the next clinic so we could discuss her situation. She still didn't come for another week, so I was rather disappointed. Finally she called me back and said she would come to the clinic. That day I saw her sitting in the waiting area outside of the clinic, looking very worried and anxious. We called one of our counselors who is also a breast cancer survivor to come and speak with her. After talking with the counselor, who is also a Christian, and who also had breast cancer the first time at very young age, this young lady had a different outlook on her situation. She was now ready to go forward with the surgery. It was decided that she would be admitted as soon as her classes were finished in about a week. Once she was admitted and it was time to sign the consent for the surgery, we realized that she would not sign consent to have a blood transfusion, because she is Jehovah's Witness. I thought, what will we do with this? The doctors spoke with her about this and tried to convince her to sign for the possible transfusion. Finally, after another week, they decided to go ahead with the surgery, since her labs were OK and the risk was higher to leave her with this large tumor which was already spreading to her lymph nodes.
I received a missed call from her last Tuesday night, and I was unable to return her call until the next morning. When I heard her voice I knew everything was OK. She told me that she had her surgery the day before and she was doing well, and that God was with her because she didn't need the transfusion. I went to visit her the following day and she looked great! She was already doing her physical therapy exercises for her arm and she was still in good spirits. I told her that once she had healed some, we would give her a prosthesis. She said, "What" "What is that." I explained that it is a fake breast that she would wear in her bra. The only problem is that she never wore a bra before. I told her that she would have to get used to them. Praise God that He worked in this situation!
I hope to continue a relationship with her and encourage her along on her journey with breast cancer. Her next step will be to go to South Africa to receive chemotherapy, that is, if there is still money in the government fund to send her. Usually by this time of year, the government starts to run out of money for this fund. My hope is that we can start giving the chemo here in Swaziland soon enough that she can receive it here. We are now looking at our fund raising for this year to see if we have enough to purchase the biological safety cabinet needed to mix the chemotherapy drugs. Please pray for me that God will direct me and use me however He sees fit and that He will give me the wisdom necessary to see this project succeed!
Post a Comment