2016 #MyGivingStory Award Winner

By Meghan Silk

On my first mission trip to Haiti, I was witness to a mastectomy surgery. Our small clinic at Life Connection Mission in the town of Montrouis, Haiti had no operating room, no anesthesia, no recovery unit, and no air conditioning. What we did have was a padded gurney in the middle of an exam room, an American doctor volunteering his time, a Haitian nurse to translate and assist, and a small group of non-medical personnel willing to help wherever was needed. I arrived at the clinic about an hour into what was supposed to be the removal of a small amount of tumorous tissue.

Our clinic does not normally take on large procedures because of the limited resources we have available. I was informed that there was much more tumorous tissue than was expected, and the doctor was doing his best to remove all of it. Having no medical training, my role during the procedure was to clean the surgical tools and hand gauze pads to the nurse. Another member of our group made sure vials of lidocaine, our only source of pain management, was in reach of the doctor when needed. Others held the woman's hand and prayed over her, offered her a cool washcloth on her face, and tried to make her as comfortable as possible during the three-hour procedure.

When the tumor was finally removed, the woman was stitched up and bandaged, and was sent home with her daughter on foot. She had to WALK home right after having a mastectomy. Two days later we left Haiti and every day for the next year I thought of that woman. Was she ok? Was our doctor able to remove all of the tumor? Was she still alive? When I finally returned to Haiti a year later I was informed that she lived for two more months before dying. All I could think was had she had regular access to doctors and hospitals she may still be alive.

I was devastated. but a friend reminded me that it was two more months with her family she might not have otherwise enjoyed. When I returned home from that second mission trip I enrolled in nursing school. I keep the only picture I have of the woman on the inside cover of my notebook. She is my inspiration to help others in Haiti who do not have access to medical care. Our clinic at Life Connection Mission now has a full time Haitian doctor and nurse, and I hope to continue to see it thrive and help more and more people. That is why I give to Life Connection Mission - to change the lives of the people in Haiti and give back to the place that changed my life.

Written in support of Life Connection Mission.