Maria, Wero, Boni, Martin
We have some sad news to share from here in the Dom. One of our dear friends, Christian brother and Bible teacher, Martin has been diagnosed with mouth cancer. It is somewhere between stage 2 and 3. He came to us some weeks ago about sores on his tongue that would not heal. We are not medical people altho we do treat people here for small things like coughs, colds, sores etc. We contacted our mission doctor about it and he cautioned us to have Martin checked for cancer. He was checked and the diagnosis was confirmed. The cancer is on the right back edge of his tongue but has spread to at least one lymph node under his chin. He has had two chemo infusions so far at our local hospital plus oral chemo at home. He will need surgery soon and then follow up radiation treatments. However Martin’s chances of survival are good. Interestingly enough, our province has the highest rate of mouth cancer in PNG.
It takes about 45 minutes to drive to on a good day to get to our nearest town. The hospital thereof is a very good one and the staff of doctors and nurses are outstanding. There we met the dentist that diagnosed Martin and is administering his chemo infusions. He told us that Martin needs to be checked by an ENT but there is not one on staff at the hospital. A visiting ENT will be available soon and not long after that a visiting head and neck surgeon who will operate on Martin.
Radiation treatment is another complication because there isn’t any facility in the Highlands for that. We will need to take Martin down to the coastal city of Lae to a cancer treatment center. Lae is 8 to 10 hours’ drive from here. Our mission used to have a guest house in Lae but no longer. This will make accommodations for Martin and whoever accompanies him a challenge. But the Lord will find a way.
Yesterday morning we had Martin come to our house to talk about his illness. He knows he has cancer (kensa in Tok Pisin) but the concept of our bodies being made up of billions of little cells that divide and that something goes wrong and some of those cells start dividing out of control, well that is a hard thing to explain either in Tok Pisin, the lingua franca (aka Pidgin English) or in Dom. We used an animated depiction of how cells divide normally and how a cell can go rogue and start to divide out of control. That seemed to help. We used examples of how small units of whatever combine to form something bigger; a wall made of hundreds of small bricks, sand made of thousands of super small rocks etc. Our bodies are made of these tiny living things called cells that bind together and make us living people.
After talking with Martin yesterday, he will begin to break the news to his family members. He’s already told his wife. Martin’s father who is an older man and steeped in the old superstitions will surely attribute this to witch craft. In the Dom world view disease is caused by witch craft. So it’s not going to be easy to contain the fallout.
Martin is a married man with an adopted daughter of about 9 years. He and his wife Maria just recently adopted a baby boy. Martin has several brothers one of whom is our land owner, friend and Christian brother.
This is an area that is hard for us to understand why a brother in the Lord and one of our few Bible teachers would have cancer, let alone try to reassure our fellow believers here. We know that God does all things well, so we rest in his timing and purpose and plan for Martin. Martin is also the only one who has been willing to teach Religious Instruction on Mondays at our local school. He will soon be presenting the Gospel at the end of the Chronological teaching of Creation through the Life of Christ.
Please pray for continued peace for Martin. Pray for all the details that need to be worked out regarding the treatment of his cancer. How much will the surgery affect his speech? Pray for his family – Maria, Wero and baby Boni. Pray that the unsaved relatives will not cause problems regarding their belief that witchcraft was caused. Pray that the church family will surround Martin with love.
An update on Martin, Jim went back to Dom on Sunday as we were out of the tribe. He took Martin to the Hospital to check him in. Monday they hadn’t done the surgery so Jim came on back to our mission station. This morning Jim called the doctor there and he said that Martin was being prepped and would have surgery at ll a.m. on Tuesday our time. They are expecting it to be 5 hour or more surgery. We will keep you posted. Pray for his wife, Maria and two children.