Sometimes at work if I sit and think of the sadness inside of the patients’ hearts sitting all around me, I could cry. If I could see into the depths of their souls, there is hurt deeper than I have ever felt.
We have a man on the ward with one of the largest facial tumours I have ever seen and I have been on the ship for almost two and a half years now. Part of the tumour has grown from his maxilla facial bone out of his face, so that one of his eyes is deep inside his face. The tumour spills out of his mouth, stretching his lips so far apart that he hasn’t been able to close his mouth for some time. The tumour has been growing now for 5 years and for the last 2 years he has only been able to take liquids as food, because he cannot chew. His whole mouth is filled with tumour.
Yesterday he came to the ship for a biopsy. We need to know what sort of tumour is growing before we can think about removing it. I spoke to our amazing maxillofacial surgeon, who said he was very hopeful that it was benign. He also said that he viewed the patient’s CT scan and the tumour goes far back in his head to the base of the brain. Although this surgeon has performed many huge surgeries removing massive tumours, he needs another well qualified surgeon to help. There is a head and neck surgeon arriving in about 5 weeks. Now we wait for the biopsy results, praying it is a benign tumour and that we can keep this man alive until he can return for surgery.
The caregiver in the bed next to this man’s, asked for a curtain to be put around his bed, as his face scared her. And my heart hurts for the feelings in both these people’s lives. Yes, the tumour is scary to see, but there is a man inside of the face. He has lived with this tumour for years now. He has lived with people only seeing the outside and not his personality or soul. People that walk past and stare, or just completely ignore, like he doesn’t exist. But he does exist!
What does this man feel? My heart aches to think of how he feels, how deep the pain in his heart is for the words or looks that he has endured over the last years. And now my heart’s cry and prayer is for this tumour to be operable, for him to be strong enough to endure these next weeks and for him to know the love that we have from God, who can and will heal his heart’s pain and suffering.