Kay Warren tells the story of the first time she went to Africa on a relief trip to help AIDS patients. The very first such patient she met was Joanna, a homeless dying woman. When she was diagnosed with HIV, her village kicked her out. So she lived by herself under a tree. She had no semblance of medical care. She had to scrounge on the ground for food and water. She was emaciated and probably days away from her death.
Reading just the description of Joanna humbled me beyond belief. I often feel sorry for myself and for my daughter because of everything she (and we) have to go through. But, compared to Joanna, we are in paradise. We have world class physicians and medical facilities 20 minutes from her house. The children's hospital is a joy to visit: they have clowns, crafts, toys, movies. We have always had all of the medicine Catherine has ever needed - not only the chemo drugs to kill her tumor, but also all the pain killers and sedatives she has ever needed.
Our fabulous medical insurance company has always provided us with all of the medical equipment and supplies we needed. When she first came home from the hospital, we were loaned a heart and lung monitor, as well as a feeding pump. Now we no longer need the heart monitor, but we do have a portable feeding pump we use to give her complete nutrition. We have had all of the high calories, specially formulated formula we have ever needed.
In addition, there are numerous organizations in the Atlanta area that help families with children with medical needs. The social and emotional support which we have received has had more impact on our family then I can ever describe. Camp Sunshine and all of the wonderful programs and activities they host have provided countless moments of joy in the middle of the cancer journey. Without them and groups like them, we may have put joy on hold for the past few years. We may have been overcome with the sadness and stress of a sick child.
Yep, reading the story of Joanna's dying days under a tree in Africa, I was humbled by what we have. I cannot complain about what we have - because we have so much.
This post is inspired by the book Dangerous Surrender by Kay Warren.