Dreams can pass through Cancer

October 20, 2013

I used to live in North Ethiopia, Gonder where it was hotter than the capital city Addis Abeba. Gonder is the place that has a lot of Orthodox Christian believers and has the fourthy fourth Ark of the Covenant. People around there were mostly lower class and labor workers. My neighbor Ms.Wubit who was short, medium size, and dark brown skin unemployed woman who also had three children. Her husband was a solider but he past way eight years ago so Ms.Wubit stopped working since then to raise her children, she gets less money from the government until her all children start working. Her oldest daughter Hiwot was a nineteen years old girl who was tall and skinny with dark, long, soft hair and light brown skin color. She was a freshman in Gonder University in business major. Hiwot was a good daughter and a role model for her family and for people who lived around there because she was a responsible, helpful, understandable, and she was the most successful student. Her mother used to say that her green light is about to shine up soon. Green light represents hope and dream I guess this green light means her future goal and dream to have the better life and to get better education for her children is coming soon. She always thought that Hiwot was very important person in the family. She was the way to get a better life and to get rid of poorness. Everybody used to tell kids to follow her steps. We used to go to her house to get homework help when she came home for the weekend. But for the past two months she did not come home because she had a big test coming up soon so she had to study. After the test she came home, Ms.Wubit was so happy to see her because she didn’t see her for two month; she was the only friend of her mother. When she came home for vacation, she usually helped younger kids with their homework and she spent time with her mom. The last time she came home for vacation something had changed, she was not the same person as she was before, because she was not really into helping kids, instead she kept complaining about headaches and she didn’t want any one to speak loudly. We knew that too much work and too much studying gives people a headache, but hers was a little different. She was very stressed and worried a lot.
It was 10 o’clock in the morning, beautiful sunshiny morning; Ms.Wubit liked to be out and enjoy the sun. As always she was standing on the balcony thinking about something, I knew that she was not enjoying the sun as always. She was there physically but not mentally, by looking at her I could tell that she was worried about losing her hope, dream and everything, I can tell that the situation that is happening will affect her life a lot. I was walking slowly wondering what happened to her, I asked her but she didn’t even notice that I was there. She kept thinking, I asked her again, she woke up and looked at me. Then she cried when she talk her voice come up with shaking and full of sadness “I have been work hard to help my children to let them have better education and to let them have better life more than mine, I have been alone since their father died but when this situation happen to me I couldn’t believe it! , I never did something bad to anyone, I never wish something bad to anyone either, I have been praying and asking God to give me a chance to be in the high society.” “What happen Ms.Wubit?” She said that her daughter has been complaining about a head ache a lot, she thought that she studied a lot that is why, but it was not, it was something unbelievable. They went to clinic because Hiwot wanted to check with a doctor “I thought she was pregnant that would have been better if she was.” She looked at me and she said, “But it was “Blood Cancer” I gasped, she cried I feel so shocked, I don’t know about blood cancer but the word “blood” scared me. No one had information or idea about blood cancer. It was an unfamiliar disease for the people who lived there. I have heard about skin and breast cancer but not blood cancer. Ms. Wubit asked me what things she should do with her sadness and hopeless voice, but I didn’t know anything either. She told me to go to Hiwot and talk to her. I went in, Hiwot was lying on the bed crying like a little girl, I told her to get up slowly, she woke up, her face was red with tears all over her face, blood coming out of her nose. She cried and cried, I wiped her tears and blood with my sleeves, and I gave her a hug. Then she said, “I have an appointment tomorrow with the doctor to get more information about it and to know about the treatments”. I said, “Everything is going to be ok! Don’t worry about anything. God is always with us” She kept on crying. “Shhh everything will be fine” she smiled and looked at me with sadness in her eyes. Even though she was sad and worried, she knew that her God would not let her down. Her mom came inside and joined us, she hugged her and cried. Later on I went home, my mom came back from work, I told her everything. She couldn’t believe it. Then my mom cooked enjera (Ethiopian food) and took it for them. In my culture if you feel sorry or happy for someone you take enjera to let them know that you care and that you are there for them. The next day Ms. Wubit and Hiwot went to a doctor. He said that blood cancer or Leukemia is actually a group of diseases, each of which impede with the normal functioning of blood cells and progressively weaken the system. The causes of blood cancers are exposure to radiation, exposure to chemicals, Human T-cell Leukemia Virus (HTLV), and genetic factors (chromosomal abnormalities). The symptoms are tiredness, bleeding, bruising, and fever. Hiwot has been struggle with these symptoms for the past three months. They heard all of this from the doctor it was unbelievable. They were wondering about the treatments also. He said “treating people with leukemia is very challenging. Because these are blood cells, leukemia cells are found throughout the body. Therefore, surgery alone cannot be used to treat this disease”. This was horrible news for them. He also said “Chemotherapy is the most effective method of leukemia cancer treatment. This might cost you $30,000”. They immediately started to cry when they heard the amount of money they needed. It was really bad news for the whole family. My mom did everything she could to help them. After a few days health care members came and interviewed Hiwot. Then the health care worker reported to the whole country so they could give donations. She was on TV for two days asking for money for her treatment. Posters all over the country, everyone feeling sorry and praying for her. But there was not a lot of money donated. It was not enough to cover her treatment. After two weeks, this family heard great news from the capital city. The richest man in Ethiopia named Al Mudi promised to cover all expenses for the medication and for all treatments. This was the greatest news ever. He also came to visit her TV reporters, Journalists, cameramen and any others writers who wanted to interview him, so he gave a speech about the whole situation. He said, “We all have to show how much we care, how much we love someone, I mean she is a university student, we all expected her to be someone one day, so please we should stand up for each other, we should love and care for each other and we all have to have information about cancer, if we don’t know anything about it we will not protect ourselves from it. So please! Let us help our young children our future hope. Tomorrow when we pass they are the one who own the country, so we should take care of them to keep our tradition, culture and religion.” Hiwot got the medication, and all the treatments. Continues to learn, and she changed her major to medical field. She wants to be a cancer doctor. Al Mudi gave money every month for her mother until she graduated from university. Ms. Wubit was really happy and said, “I knew that my God doesn’t let me down, I knew that my green light will start to glow again.”
I am so happy that Hiwot is still a role model not only her greatness but also a role model for cancer. After six month my family and I came to America then I celebrated my 15th birthday. Now I know about cancer a lot, I know how it affect many others life, not only Hiwot but many others who did not even get help. I should stand and prepared to prevent this disease. We all have a responsibility to stand and help people. That is why I want to be a doctor. I want to help people and encourage others to stand up and help people.
Tsehainesh Tilahun