Shared by the palliative care team at the Integrated Hospice Program Cameroon Baptist Convention
Esther’s little girl Emelia was crying, I reached over to help the 3 year old up and her mother reached out her arms. Too frail and weak now to carry her daughter, Esther tried to sooth the child, whilst struggling to pull herself into a sitting position.
We were seated together on a blanket on the floor outside Esther’s 2 room dwelling. When the palliative care team had first arrived, Esther had been in terrible pain. She had very advanced cancer of the cervix, and at 25, was dying. A small dose of morphine liquid had settled her pain and now she was able to talk and comfort her daughter.
Esther had met our team when she had come to the local hospital with complications from her tumour. Surgery had been performed but the cancer was too far advanced to be operable at presentation. Esther had had every complication imaginable and currently had a colostomy and was suffering with ascites, constipation and foul smelling PV discharge. Many husbands would have thrown a lady such as this out of the house for fear she was cursed, but fortunately her husband stood by her and was with her through all the difficulties.
We were able to get Esther comfortable and treat the smell which had meant that people had not wanted to get close to her. Our visit had brought essential symptom control to a lady not able to get to hospital in the last stage of her life.
It was the last time I saw Esther, she died 2 weeks later. Her husband made a special trip to the hospital to thank the team and made many subsequent visits, just to sit and talk through how things had been. I took this photo at the last visit and it always brings tears to my eyes to see Esther struggling to raise her head for the last photo with her little girl.