The Hard Part… 1/2

A mother’s journey of hope and prayer in her son’s battle against sickle cell disease.

Taking care of my son, a sickle cell patient about to receive a stem cell transplant, was a season filled with mixed feelings. Sometimes optimism, other times, despair.

I was optimistic because if the treatment was successful, then it would be a 100% success but otherwise a 100% failure. There was no middle ground and this was a very scary place.
In the midst of all the uncertainty, prayer was my only resort and not even knowing what to pray most times, I would fall back on the famous prayer of serenity: “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.”

The transplant would be carried out in India so three of us left Cameroon on the trip: my son and two potential donor siblings. I was overwhelmed with enthusiasm for the transplant as we got closer.

However, on our arrival another serious challenge reared its head; a matching test was conducted on the siblings and to my greatest dismay, they were not a perfect match for the patient. The sibling donors were of the Blood Group AA. They had seemed like the ideal donors. This didn’t make sense. Again, I prayed.

At this point I had no choice but to send for another of his siblings back at home. My husband got his blood sample, alongside those of the other kids, and sent to us in India. It was a relief when their test results showed that one of the two siblings at home was the perfect match. We immediately bought him a ticket and he joined us in a few days. This was another ray of hope.

The hospital where we were had very sophisticated and state of the art infrastructure but the sheer warmth of its personnel was an even bigger bonus. It was simply a marvel; super clean surroundings and the staff available at our slightest indication. The Director of this hospital, one of the best in Asia for bone marrow transplants, was an equally compassionate and hospitable person. All this warmth and support we received gave us much more hope for the treatment.

The day for the actual procedure came after lots of tests and preparations. My donor son’s stem cells were harvested and infused into his brother, and then the waiting began. It’s one thing to transfer stem cells into the patient, and it’s another thing for the body to accept these healthy cells and recover. It takes about 90 days for the doctors to confirm the success of the procedure and the absence of any of any other complications arising from it. Waiting this long, was the hard part.

“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.”

Reinhold Neibuhr

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