OCF in Africa – Part 2

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There were so many in need when we arrived on site. Some had traveled for days to hopefully be chosen for a surgery. The day before the exams, and the selection of patients we thought we could help, it rained from afternoon through the night into the sunrise. Many slept out in it all to be seen. They arrived and lined the path to the small building that would be our surgical home in a group whose size was staggering. What that would inevitably mean, is that many would not be seen by the four surgical teams on site that week. We would be choosing the worst of the worst…not that any were really minor problems in my mind. Inside, they lined both sides of the hallway eagerly looking to catch your eye as you passed, that you might notice them and bring them into a room for further evaluation. At the end of the first day the teams had filled their schedule for the next few days of surgery, and tears were, in many cases, openly shed by those passed over. The extent of the conditions we saw were unlike anything that would normally be seen here in the states. People had lived for years with growths and goiters, some bilateral, each side were the size of softballs. Mark and I walked those lining the hall, and it didn’t take long to understand that only those whose needs were impeding breathing or swallowing would be chosen. We have it so easy here in the US, you have a problem, and you see a doctor and the problem is dealt with at the level it can be. We take so much for granted. Some of the patients we saw had lived with growing masses for a decade, with no money nor services to alleviate their situation. As I passed by those who I knew were not bad enough to be chosen, I could not help but empathize with their emotions, unable to be hidden, as they were dismissed as not bad enough and we continued down the line. The concept of “not bad enough”, is something we do not think of here in the US. Look at the eyes in the first picture ….they say it all.

By | 2016-12-14T22:05:35+00:00 June, 2016|Blog|

About the Author:

Brian is currently the Founder and Executive Director of the Oral Cancer Foundation, and is a frequent public speaker on oral cancer issues at universities, professional medical, dental and research conferences, TV news and magazine shows. He is routinely interviewed for oral cancer articles by numerous print media publications as diverse as The Wall St. Journal, USA Today and the Boston Globe, to Men’s Health and Woman’s Day Magazines, and is a trusted source for backgrounder material used to prepare major newscasters, writers, and talk show hosts.