Mar 4

I’m writing once again since we may not be able to write for several days. I imagine we’ll have access to internet, but just in case, I’ll log my thoughts from yesterday and today.

The last two days, Jon and I have spent rounding on the cancer wards. There is one ward that is mostly children with some adults and another ward with what they call solid tumors (those that are more related to specific organs rather than the bone marrow or lymphatic system). Yesterday we saw many children with Burkett’s lymphoma, several with retinoblastoma, and many with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Although Jon thought he was likely to spend the day in tears, I think childhood cancers are not nearly as sad as adult cancers. Children typically respond better to treatment and the cancers they generally have are often curable. Here it’s not quite as good as at home, but many of the children do go into remission even with the late presentations.

Today we were on the solid tumor ward…a bit more depressing in my opinion. The adults also present very late in their disease process so often it’s difficult to treat and most of them will die from their diseases. There is an organization in Sweden that pays for chemotherapy for a certain kind of stomach cancer (gastrointestinal stromal tumor) and these patients respond very well and have a pretty good prognosis. There were quite a few patients with Kaposi sarcoma which is a malignancy associated with HIV. The disease responds well to chemo, but there is still the HIV to deal with. Interestingly, the incidence of cancer seems to be much lower here than at home. We were talking to a doctor here (who is starting residency in Cleveland in July) about it and though there aren’t any studies on it, he felt that even accounting for the facts that we live longer and have a poorer diet, he still thinks there is less cancer here. I don’t know if this is true, but I do know that I’ve seen a lot more at home than while here. However, we have no idea how many people die of a cancer that was never diagnosed and it’s pretty obvioius that HIV/AIDS is a bigger problem here than cancer! Either way, there are very few hematologists here and this doctor is planning on becoming a hematologist and then coming back here to work eventually.

In response to both my mom and Robb, I’d say that our blessings and hard work are both part of our great country and opportunities. Of course it’s true that the men and women before us and now have and are working hard to keep us free. It is interesting that so little of Africa has been developed even though these people have been here forever, but I’ve had to remind myself many times that so much of the culture even now is tribal and there are so many tribes that this seems to contribute to the lack of development. For example, in Northern Uganda, there is still a war being fought, so while the people up there are continually suffering, the government down here in Kampala is continuing with its corrupt ways. There isn’t democracy here, even if the government pretends that’s what it is. We can’t forget that Uganda was a war zone not that long ago and although things aren’t great here, the people are just so glad to have (mostly) peace, that they haven’t begun to care about what we see as lack of development. As to why African countries have remained tribal for so long when other areas of the world haven’t, I don’t know. But I do know that none of us chooses where we are born, and to be born American is a privilege and a blessing we, as individuals, didn’t do anything to earn. Once we have grown up a bit, there are lots of things many individuals do to enable future infants of this same privilege, but I don’t think we can just ignore the fact that where we’re born and what nationality our parents are, makes a big difference. Basically, in case I didn’t explain my thoughts well enough, I think the combination of blessings and hard work has made us (as Americans) who we are today.

Tonight Jon and I are taking Susan and Dr. Holt out to dinner. We’re going to some place we saw pictures of and Susan says is great. The food we order is put in front of us and then we cook it right there at the table. Sounds like an activity and a meal all in one!

It seems I’ve made a little into a long blog once again! I hope I can write again soon, but if not, don’t worry we’ll be back in a little over a week!



6 Responses to “Mar 4”

  1. bob Says:

    Gastrointestinal stromal tumor does not respond to chemo. I know. I had it. Surgery and gleevac are the only known treatments as far as I know.

  2. Kyom Says:

    let me know how you liked the Mongolian,,, i assume that’s where you are going….

  3. Susan from Nebraska Says:

    Hey, Katie, I saw saw a message on DVD last year that was spoken by a pastor that is in Jerusalem. He is Asian/American and married to a Hebrew girl. He is a really powerful speaker. He was addressing the fact that although most nations around the world have heard the Gospel, the ones that embraced it as part of their culture are the ones that prospered. It began in Israel with Jesus and then during the persecution after Jesus was crucified moved to Africa and Europe and the Americas and is now being preached in China and India and will come full circle back to Israel where many Jews will come to the Lord. But if you look at the European cultures, they really embraced Christianity and became prosperous. Take Germany – the Huns – they were barbaric in their beliefs but once the accepted Christianity they began to prosper and now stopped waring with one another etc.
    American was founded on Christianity and we are (and hope to stay) very prosperous and safe. Anyway, something to think about. I used to want to fall on the ground and kiss the earth when I would come home from Nigeria as a teenager. I felt to fortunate to be born an American!!!

  4. boringstoriesfromafrica Says:

    Thanks for that Susan. I see so many Christian organizations really working here so I do think there is hope. And Kyom…you make me smile. I miss you already and you’ve only been gone a week! Last night we went to the Korean resturant…its name starts with an ‘A’. That’s so funny that Susan calls you a princess! I think I’ll try to find the market you talked about…never know what treasure I might be missing! Have you adjusted to the cold? Sometime I want to know what you thought of the clinic more than just that it was interesting! 🙂 Talk to you soon!

  5. Barb Boose Says:

    Hi, Katie — I’m DMU’s publications director and have been reading your and Jon’s blogs — very informative, interesting and thoughtful! I do have a question: In your Feb. 26 post, you refer to a Dr. Charles and say he/she is a DMU graduate. I’m always looking for story ideas for DMU Magazine, and your experiences PLUS a tie to a DMU graduate working in Uganda pique my interest. Can you tell me more about Dr. Charles and whether I might contact him/her via e-mail? I greatly appreciate your help. BEST WISHES from Des Moines University and the city — it’s a balmy 60 degrees here today and we are LOVING it!

    Be safe.

  6. Arlene Hiatt Says:

    Amen to what Susan wrote about embracing Christianity. Apart from God, there is no prosperity or development, individually or as a country. Enjoy your remaining time in Uganda! Will look forward to your blog on the rural people and clinics. What an awesome experience you are having and what a light your life is! You continue in my prayers.


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