“…In all Things, give thanks…”
Bob is 19 and has had a lot of hardships in his young life. He lost his father when he was about five and his mother has struggled to raise him and his siblings. He currently has a melanoma of the eye and had just been referred to the palliative care team.
The Makerere Palliative Care Unit (MPCU) volunteers visited him one afternoon and they were able to take some pictures with him. The next day when I went in, he had a big smile on his face, asking me “where are my friends?”, meaning the volunteers, who had spent the previous afternoon with him. He also asked for copies of the photos.
One of his biggest frustrations is the slow process with regard to his treatment. “I don’t know what is happening, the doctors are not telling me much and I have not yet got treatment”. On Monday we went to see him together with the medical team who were discussing his management plan with the team on the ward. However he looked very sad and wasn’t in the mood to talk. I gave him the printed pictures and he smiled momentarily on seeing them, but I sensed the sadness. I promised I would see him after the clinical rounds later in the day.
He was sad that the sickness has confined him to hospital and he is not able to go to school. Since he lost his father, going to school has been a struggle and sometimes he has to do manual jobs to raise the money for his fees.
“I have struggled; even working as a porter so that I can go to school, but now this disease has put me down.”
This year he should have been sitting his final exams which would allow him to go to University and fulfil his ambitions of becoming an accountant so that he can take care of his mother and siblings. But he had to drop out of school last year when he became sick. Still he hasn’t given up hope of going back to school, and he hopes he can receive his treatment as soon as possible and get a discharge to go home.
What gives this bright young man hope and strength amidst the sickness, pain and frustration he is going through? Bob has a big blue bible by the side of his bed, which he reads a lot. Recently when one of the volunteers was spending time with him he opened a scripture in 1st Thessalonians. “Pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
Sometimes he gets frustrated when things don’t seem to be moving with regard to his management and treatment but he always finds comfort in reading his bible. He sleeps by the window so he has a good view of the roadside. “When I get bored, I look out the window at the cars moving on the road until you people (volunteers) come.” He appreciates the visits, love and care from the palliative care team.
This is a young man who is in pain sometimes with a dangerous disease but can still afford to smile and hope…………
Ivan Onapito (Volunteer and Pastoral Support Coordinator, MPCU)