My First Experience with Squamous Cell Cancer…

Life as a medical student is full of experiences, some good and some bad ones too. But there are some experiences that affect you so much that they end up changing something about you.
This leads me to say at this point that, whenever you meet a medical doctor or paramedic, a lot of what he is, and how he reacts, is a sum of all his experiences over the years.
Well, mine is not about me, or my school, but about a young boy whose father had a cancer.
It was sometime in August, that news began to go out in our fellowship that there was someone who needed up to 3 pints of blood for an important therapy. Well on my part, I did take it for granted because, that was not the first time such requests were being made. My school was inside a teaching hospital, and part of the missionary activity of churches and fellowships was to offer charitable services to the patients, especially those who were members of their faith communities from various places. And then, I had not donated blood before, added to the fact that I doubted so much that I was fit for that. Now, I don’t want to say I was scared.

Anyway, this news had continued much for too long and personally I wondered why it did. I mean, there were people everywhere who could have donated blood. But why hadn’t they? Nevertheless, I still did not bother much. It was not until the issue was raised in the fellowship’s executive meeting that I understood what a dilemma it was.

I realized the problem was not so much the willingness of donors, but that due to the ongoing ASUU strike, a lot of students were at home, and the ones who were not, had to stay back because of their commitment to the church. But these ones were the regular church goers and they had already donated some pints of blood, within the set 6 months interval.

However, I wasn’t yet moved till I met this 15 year old boy, the first son of his father who was in the hospital and suffering from a squamous cell carcinoma of the groin. Well, this illness would be explained later on this blog.

The very first time I met this boy, I was moved with compassion. Not only did I listen to his story, I also saw in his face a certain innocence, mixed with helplessness. And I was touched, that such a child, and at such a young age, could be going through so much.
And his story?
Michael Uzochukwu comes from Orlu in Imo State, Nigeria. His parents are not well to do, but try their best to train Michael and his brother, and also bring them up in the fear of God.
But Calamity’s strike began when his mother had a mental disorder and was taken away from him by her family. And then like a chain of events, as though that were not enough, his father developed a cancer.Doctors said his father needed radiotherapy, and so they had to travel to Owerri, to the Federal Medical center, only to be told that the equipment required, was not in the hospital and they were referred to the University College Hospital in Ibadan. And so, Michael, the only companion of his father, in this journey of strife, arrived Ibadan with his father, some nothing less than 9 hours travel, and this, with the expenses involved for a family of such low economic status. I mean, they had to feed, shelter, and even pay for the relatively mind blowing hospital bills.

After days in Ibadan, they were referred to the Lagos University Teaching Hospital, because the equipment in UCH had broken down. And that was how Michael and his father arrived my school.

In LUTH, the equipment was working, thank God, but then came the next problem, 3 pints of blood. I later gathered as I asked more questions, that Michael and his father had also run out of money and were basically feeding from the charitable deeds of fellow patients in the same ward as his father. What shocked me more is that, Michael, who was not allowed to sleep in the ward with his father, slept on the floor, along the open corridors of the Accident and Emergency building.

After I heard all these, and to my face, it would have hurt me deep down in my conscience, and in fact, I would have been a wicked person, if I had not tried to help the situation. I quickly dropped all my reservations and even became a chanter for his predicament.

The ASUU strike didn’t help issues, sincerely. Everybody around was unfit, others had gone back home. The search was still on though. And this is a word to ASUU and all other labor unions that the next time you are calling for a strike action they should do well to remember, that the action can have even tertiary consequences, on people who are not directly affected.

Michael and I had got close, I admired him, – no homo okay? I would rather say, I pitied him, and I really wanted to help him. I felt good with myself doing this because, at least, I was doing something good, and then for someone I didn’t know. I began feeding him, from my little earnings, this, I found myself doing with much freedom.

I also chose to ignore a lot of his immaturity and all, because I still pitied him. I remember that on two occasions, he didn’t finish the food I bought for him, and felt there was nothing wrong about it. He basically turned into my handbag and was encouraging me to search for more people to help his father. Anyway after so many searches, we found more people. I remember, on the day we were to donate, the little boy was encouraging me, telling me that I shouldn’t be scared and I saw the happiness in his eyes.

That was just not enough; the later events were much more saddening. A sum of N18,000 was needed to run tests on all 3 blood samples before they could be used. Michael and his father had nothing, my pockets were running dry out of feeding 2 people, all calls to Michael’s relatives proved abortive as they continued postponing their involvement, it was as though hopes were lost for me, and this annoyed me greatly. It was at this time that I met Michael’s father, on his hospital bed. He thanked me so much for the blood donated for him, he prayed for me, he told me how he had tried all his life to bring up his little children in the fear of God, and I watched him lament about his faith in God.

It was one week later, as I was organizing a program in Church, that the sad news came to me, that the cancer had killed the man who I donated blood for. You cannot imagine how I felt, not only for the man, but for Michael. And then, I asked after him, his relatives had taken him away. Truth is, I don’t know what lies ahead for Michael in this life of his. And till now, I have not seen him. When I received calls from him, I could not answer, because I did not know what words to use, to console that little boy, whose father was taken away, by  Squamous Cell Cancer.

Chibuzor F. Ogamba


Author: Chibuzor F. Ogamba

Chibuzor F. Ogamba is a Nigerian Medical Student, Writer, Poet, Blogger, Public Speaker and Catholic Apologist

2 thoughts on “My First Experience with Squamous Cell Cancer…”

  1. scrolling down admits d various topics this was the one that caught my eye ,,,actually this is the first time am taking time to read one of your works#forgiveme, and I must say you are an excellent writer…..your actions depict that of a practical Christian and I must say am amazed by your charitable deeds,, please keep moving forward in faith,grace and love in Christ Jesus….Amen


    1. Thanks a lot Chinedu for taking time to read my write-up, I am indeed really glad, I know my write-ups can be veeery long, so I really appreciate your taking out time to read and comment too…thanks for the compliments too…May God help us all


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