Marthe is incredibly sweet, shy and came to us with a 30 pound tumour hanging off her shoulders and back. She has been carrying this burden for 18 years, and life has been hard.
Living in constant shame, Marthe almost didn’t come to our screening because she was so embarrassed. She can’t clean herself without help, and her tumor constantly leaks fluid – she wraps herself in plastic to catch the drainage and keep herself dry.
Ward Nurse, Robyn Ferguson, checks Marthe’s dressing on the ward.
Despite feelings of shame and doubt, she took the four-hour journey from her home to see if Mercy Ships could help. Thanks to donors and volunteers from around the world, Marthe was admitted to the Africa Mercy to receive a free surgery that would remove her tumour. Volunteers onboard the ship were in awe of Marthe’s strength and bravery, as an onboard nurse recounts what it was like to witness the challenges Marthe has had to live with every day:
“I spent about 30 minutes with her in the bathroom helping her with her preop bath, tucking incontinent pads around her tumor and helping her tie a sheet around everything to keep it all in place. As we worked, I was given a glimpse of the day to day struggle this beautiful woman deals with, and my heart just broke. I was angry at this tumor that seemed to have stolen so much…I only pray the love we show her here would also help to heal the emotional burdens within her heart.”
After receiving a free surgery that removed her tumour, Marthe still seems to hold the weight of the burden she carried for so many years – volunteers have hardly seen her smile. She is now recovering in the Benin HOPE Centre, where she can receive the medical, emotional and spiritual care she needs to make a full recovery.
This Easter, Mercy Ships Canada is working to bring HOPE to more patients like Marthe. Together, we can give a gift to patients like her that we too were given at this time of year – the gift of restoration, resurrection and renewal.