The road to Karanda Mission Hospital, at least 200 km north of Harare, Zimbabwe using public transport, particularly when one has a medical ailment can be described as arduous at best. This trip from Harare involves seven hours of travel, three commuter omnibuses, a ride in an “unroadworthy” pickup truck, crossing a “bridgeless” river, in addition to requiring huge amounts of patience. Virimayi Sarayi, one of the five patients that the ECCT is supporting through the Sponsor a Cancer Patient Campaign, made this journey to Karanda Mission Hospital two weeks ago to have his cancerous jaw mass removed, which he was diagnosed with and has been growing since 2007.
ECCT Project Manager, Marshall Mutsamwira, took the same trip using public transport to view the trip through Virimayi’s eyes and to visit him and his mother after the operation. Marshall gives an excerpt below taken from Virimayi’s mother’s recount of what happened before, during and after the operation.
We left Harare for Karanda on Friday morning on the 17th of May 2013 and we finally arrived in the evening. Virimayi’s operation was scheduled for the following Tuesday, but we were advised to arrive a few days earlier for him to be under observation. The operation date was however deferred to an indefinite date because the hospital was still waiting for additional blood to come through that would be given to Virimayi during the operation. It was hard for Virimayi at this stage because he could only have one meal at night and not eat for the entire day because the blood could arrive at any time for the operation to commence.
The operation was finally confirmed for 11:00 am on Thursday 23 May 2013. Before the operation, the hospital team and my daughter went to the hospital church to pray for a successful operation. The operation took a total of three hours and ended at 2:00 pm. My daughter, Nomatter and I were able to watch the operation take place from a secluded room in the theatre. They removed the huge mass of bone that was the size of a baby’s head from my son’s jaw. On looking at it, I also noticed that it had a big hole in it. The doctor advised that this mass was going to Harare for further testing. They also had to remove part of his lower jaw to prevent another growth starting again.
Immediately after the operation, the doctor advised that the operation had gone well and that Virimayi would wake up at any moment. However, an hour passed, and he was still asleep. Three hours passed and he was still unconscious. At 6:00pm, the doctors who had operated on Virimayi called me and told me to prepare for the worst and that he might not make it until the next day. His breathing was very faint and on touching his body, it was stiff and very cold. Overwhelmed with emotion, I went outside the ward and began to pray with Nomatter asking God to help Virimayi and intervene in his situation. We cried, we prayed and we cried all over again. Two hours passed and there was still no improvement.
At 9pm, God answered our prayers and Virimayi woke up. All the doctors who were available on night shift came through to Virimayi’s bed and exclaimed that him waking up was nothing short of a miracle. They could not believe it! For two days after his operation, his body was having a rough time getting rid of the medication that was in his system and recovering from the operation. Now his skin colour has improved incredibly and he is starting to talk.
It’s only after all of this that I have started eating because I have been so worried about my son,Virimayi. I would like to thank the medical team at Karanda Mission Hospital for their physical and spiritual support in helping Virimayi with his operation. I would also like to thank the Elizabeth Chanakira Cancer Trust and all those who have donated towards assisting with the operation, the hospital fees as well as your prayers. May God continue to bless you all.
The candle above was photographed in the small room in which Project Manager, Marshall Mutsamwira, spent the night in the only accommodation available that night, in a room with five other people he did not know. A big thank you to him for all the work he does overseeing ECCT’s groundwork and meeting the patients right in the heart of where they are. His hard work, commitment, dedication and pure heart for the patients, is absolutely invaluable.
The ECCT Team would like to thank everyone who has supported us through donations and enabled us to pay for Virimayi’s hospital bills and Nomatter’s school fees. We also ask for you to continue to support us so that we can assist Virimayi with the medications and hospital visits that he will need once he returns to Harare. To see a video in which he tells his story, click here.
The Melbourne Marathon Festival is being held again on 13 October 2013, so if you are based in Melbourne, Australia please register here to join us in the different races to run and fundraise for the five patients we are supporting.
Just like the lone candle in the picture, we believe that even when it seems dark, there is always hope…hope which can be lighted by just a few.
*To donate and support our work, visit our website here.