Tag Archives: medical missions

a broken best

This partial post was written by my friend, Nicole A Webb.  Her selfless love hosting a child with cancer, on a medical mission from Africa, will inspire you to give your best as well, even when it’s broken.

I stared at the form in front of me searching for a box labeled “imposter”.  I was not her “parent” or her “legal guardian”. I felt I had no right to sign for her medical care, though there was a single piece of paper on file stating otherwise.  I made a hasty in the “other” box, then walked away avoiding eye contact with the receptionist.  With each step to the waiting area, my weight doubled under the knowledge that I just gave permission for a child who is not my own to be poisoned.

Ma had been with our family just two weeks before her first chemotherapy treatment.  She came to the States from Cote d’Ivoire, Africa, through a medical missions organization.  Doctors in Africa originally thought she had glaucoma, and that she would return to her family after surgery and a 2-month stay.  Doctors here determined she instead had retinoblastoma, a rare form of eye cancer.  One eye couldn’t be saved.  A lengthy treatment plan was put into motion to save her life, then to save her eyesight.

“Ma Sylla,” the nasally voice of the in-take nurse roamed across the waiting room and scratched my ears like sandpaper.

“It’s Ma, like the month of May,” I said, attempting politeness.

“I’ll make a note of that on her chart,” the nurse mumbled.  They never said it wrong again.

I felt an immediate pang of guilt for my abruptness.  I don’t know how her name is actually pronounced, or what her family calls her.  Ma, like the month of May, is just the name we imposed on her.  She had only been on this earth a sickly single year, so she was unable to otherwise correct us.

After taking her weight, height, blood pressure and temperature, which terrified her, we made our way to an infusion chair.  We were given a blanket and pillow and told to make ourselves comfortable.  As if.

“Thank you,” I whispered.

Ma had buried her head into my chest during her vitals and only now, several minutes after the nurse had vacated our presence, did she dare to take a peek.  She gazed up at me with her one remaining dark chocolate brown eye.

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Please click here to read the ending to this inspiring post and learn more about Nicole and her family.