We met some of Amazone’s family, three young women, her aunts. I told the story and showed them the many photos of their little niece, I told them of her hospitalisation, our hopes, and despite everything, her last moments of joy discovering a new world in which everyone opened their arms to her and a gave a little of the best they could find within.
They too, had their own problems, all three of them single mothers, their children, fathered by soldiers of the army or the militia, who had now moved on … One of them can’t have been older than 17. She was carrying a one-month-old baby (a real beauty!). Suddenly, she started crying as she lifted up her T-shirt to reveal her breasts. We discovered with utter astonishment that her shapeless breasts were gruesomely deformed. The right breast had a large mammary gland at the end (very important during her lactation period) and hung well below her navel. The other breast though less impressive, was none the less extremely deformed! But what really caught my attention was a hard prominent lump, between the two breasts. I anxiously thought about little Amazone with her Burkitt’s lymphoma. I remembered hearing that it was caused mainly by a virus linked to specific human genes as well as a particular geographic situation.
She told me that the swelling in her breasts had begun in the beginning of her pregnancy. Following the birth of her baby, certain complications began to manifes t… Here, left to themselves, existing thanks to a field to grow peanuts and a few catfish … what more is there to do but to accept and suffer your own bad luck?
In order to help her I met with an old nurse, “Monsieur José,” who, with years of experience had become dentist and even surgeon. We would often see him cycling around the town with two much-used books on his bicycle rack, one on surgery and the other on general medicine. Books, which he calls with the utmost respect, “My professors!” He had been the one to diagnose Amazone’s Burkitt’s Lymphoma and the treatment he administered even gave fantastic results but unable to supply a third round of chemotherapy he had to watch the tumour come back with all its might. He promised me he would see the young woman to make a diagnosis.
I really admire these legendary men and women, mostly forgotten today but who have devoted their lives to staying close to those who have nothing and especially have found the strength to give their love and comfort to those around them. Here, in the middle of nowhere, in what is pompously called “a town” but is more like an abandoned agglomeration. How can we close our eyes to accept the fact that there is nothing much that we can do?! I have yet to find the strength for that, at the moment I am not well equipped! In the meantime, with a low heart having discovered, yet again, such human distress, I had to get back to reality.