Five years ago a young man named Thierno had to quit his job because of the tumor on his face. It wasn’t just any job – Thierno played forward for the city of Conakry’s soccer team. What was just a small tumor has since grown to the size of a melon. In the past few months, the tumor has grown so large that Thierno hasn’t been able to eat or speak. He is on the verge of suffocation.
Because of the size of Tierno’s tumor, the first time he was seen by Mercy Ships doctors said nothing could be done. Thierno’s case was passed to our Palliative Care Team.
But then a few weeks ago, a decision was made to put in a feeding tube to get Thierno’s weight up. All went as planned and he has put on 10 kilograms. Now, surgeons will try to remove the tumor – the surgery will be long and complicated. Thierno will have part one of a two-part surgery tomorrow.
Yesterday I sat down and spoke with Thierno and his mother, Djenabou, and I thought about how different things could have been for Thierno if he lived in country with access to healthcare.
It will be three years ago December 1st that my mom was diagnosed with a brain tumor. Yes, their types are quite different, but following my mom’s diagnosis, she had surgery within twelve hours. It was a hard time for our family – but I realize now how fortunate we were to have access to amazing surgeons and hospitals.* Thierno has been living like this for five years – waiting to die by either starvation or suffocation.
So, now that you’ve read this far, tell me – what is it that you do when you want something? Do you ask God for it out loud? Throw a penny in a well? Do you pray? Rain dance? Make a wish at 11:11?
Whatever it is that you do, whatever your faith, please do it? Pray that Thierno survives these surgeries, pray that his cancer hasn’t spread. And for Djenabou, his mother, that she finds comfort and strength.
I will keep you all updated with Thierno’s progress. Thank you for reading! And for your prayers!
* She has since made an awesome recovery and she inspires me each day – go Mom!
Photo courtesy Deb Bell and Mercy Ships.