Tuesday, April 19, 2011
Dear Up-and-Coming President Martelly
Photo by John Carroll
Dear Up-and-Coming President Martelly,
I want to be clear in this open letter to you: The entire world of reasonable people wish you the most success as Haiti's new leader.
I happen to work downstream in Haiti and see terrible medical problems all day long everyday.
These problems inflict so much trauma and cut the lives short of so many people.
The photo above is the right breast of a 41 year old Haitian patient of mine with inoperable breast cancer.
She had a breast biopsy in the Dominican Republic (DR) in October, 2010 and has undergone numerous rounds of chemotherapy in the DR.
However, she is now back in Haiti and too weak to travel back to the DR for further treatment. And she is in too much pain to make the rough trip on the roads.
Her right breast is rock hard and has holes that drain pus.
She has large lymph nodes in each armpit and above her collar bone which means that her cancer has spread.
If you could stand by her bedside and hold her hand and talk to this lady, I know you would do your best to prevent this misery from ever happening to another Haitian woman.
And unfortunately, this happens all the time to Haitian women. They don't have access to mammography, they get breast cancer, most don't get any reasonable therapy, and most suffer at the end of their lives needlessly. They don't have adequate pain control and many have NO pain control.
I give her morphine for her pain...just a tiny dose is all it takes to give her about 12 hours of happiness.
When I made rounds an hour ago, her face was kind of wild. I think she knows she is dying. She told me she was "pa bon" tonight as she pointed at her hideous right breast. She asked me if I would pray for her.
Her daughters stand at her bedside with their heads down as I try and teach them how to administer oral morphine to their mom.
My patient's sister called me today from West Palm Beach and inquired about her condition. I explained what I was doing for her and advised the sister that she should call each day.
Mr. Martelly, as you know, no one should live and die like this.
Please remember people like this lady when you are President of Haiti. They are everywhere in Haiti if we just look. She will help you from her spot in Heaven to guide you and provide you with benevolence and knowledge to help you help Haiti's vast population with their many medical problems.
John Carroll, MD