“God Can Make All Impossibilities Possible”: Hawa’s Breast Cancer Story

12/28/16

Hawa entered COTN–Sierra Leone’s care when she was about six years old. Both of her parents had passed away from illness. She joined COTN's sponsorship program and she thrived. She enjoyed volleyball and wanted to become an accountant.


During the height of the Ebola crisis in Sierra Leone, Hawa noticed a mass in her right breast was becoming painful. Concerns were raised with the medical staff of Children of the Nations, but at that time, there was little that could be done. With Ebola spreading death and fear across the country, hospitals were not functioning normally and the specialist Hawa was referred to would not see patients until the crisis abated. A number of months passed and Hawa bravely bore the discomfort and fear of the unknown until the time came that an appointment with the specialist could be arranged.

Below is Hawa’s letter (typed up and edited by her sister, N’gardie Bangalie), telling her story and thanking you and God for your support and prayers:

Hawa


 

I started experiencing a lump or swelling at the right side of my breast on March 18th, 2013, and I informed the COTN nurse about this lump. However, as time went on this swelling became painful, and it was not being handled at the COTN clinic in Banta. I visited the Serabu hospital several times, but unfortunately, I was not attended to because they had little or no idea on what was really taking place. . . . As the breast continued to get worse, I was flown to Kenya for more testing and treatments. Thus, it is in Kenya I was diagnosed with breast cancer.

Young Hawa

                                                         Hawa when she first came to COTN.


I have lived with this pain for three years, but each day that passes by I have learn[ed] to appreciate and thank God for keeping me alive. This type of disease (breast cancer) being strange in Sierra Leone made me scared and confused, but in the midst of all this confusion I believe God is able to work and restore my body. God indeed proved this to me by giving me a precious family: the COTN family.

 

My COTN family made me to understand that all is not lost and God can make all impossibilities possible. Their genuine support and endless effort revived and strengthened my hope upon God. This they displayed in all way[s] possible, such as paying [for an] air ticket for me to be treated with the right medications outside Sierra Leone to Malawi via Kenya.


This I do not take for granted but say my sincere thanks and gratitude to all who donated and took time to pray for God to restore my body. I am glad that my body is responding to the chemotherapy and my breast is returning to it[s] normal size. God is indeed faithful, and the God who has started His good work will surely complete [it].

Slightly older Hawa

                                                  Hawa continues to grow into a godly young woman.


Therefore, in this second section of my story, I would like to first of all extend my sincere thanks and appreciation to God who is my savior, anchor, and my best cheerleader; throughout my struggle with cancer I believed He has been with me and He is still walking with me because He has promise[d] so (Matthew 28:20 NIV). I am also grateful and thankful to my dad (Chris Clark) and Mum (Debbie Clark) and to all the Children of the Nations international and national staff.

 

My heart is full of joy, and I am privileged to have people who gave. . .their all for me to have a [successful] surgery. I am thankful to all who donated and all those who mentioned me in their daily prayers. I am also grateful and thankful to all my COTN brothers and sisters in various parts of the world (Sierra Leone, Malawi, Uganda, Haiti, Dominican Republic, and United States). I am glad to have such a supportive family right at my side when I needed them the most; you folks are a huge encouragement and blessing, because of you all I didn’t feel alone throughout this cancer struggle!


Thus, my testimony will be incomplete or half done if I fail to give God praise for all the doctors and nurses He has constantly used to remind me that all is not lost. These medical personnel include the Sierra Leonean nurses and doctors; especially our devoted COTN nurses who were with me and stay[ed] right with me when the cancer started.

 

Secondly, I am also grateful [for] all the encouragement I got from the nurses and doctors at Partners in Hope Malawi, who successfully administered and supervised my chemo treatment, not forgetting Nurse Charity and all the lovely staff at COTN-Malawi. Continually, I am thankful for the Kijabe medical center in Kenya, especially the team that gave me their full support through this cancer journey and the wisdom that God bestowed upon Doctor Bird who carried out the operation successfully.


Hawa with her sisters

Hawa (front row, third from left) with her COTN sisters in Malawi. One of her Sierra Leonean sisters is N’gardie Bangalie (third from right), who traveled with Hawa when she went for treatment.

Furthermore, I believe that what we go through in our lives shapes our character for the people we become if we let it. This, then, helps us to be strong because God indeed knows our every [situation], including the future, which we may not even have a clue about. Therefore, throughout each step, as I struggled with pain, I learned to trust God’s way[s], which were beyond my understanding, and I daily invited Him to direct and lead my path. Although I would have not chosen cancer, I am humble[d] to say the [experience] has been a blessing in the way that my life has been enriched with beautiful people, and yes, my life has taken a new meaning and grasped [hold] of the outstretched and redeeming hand of God.


Therefore, I want to take this time to encourage everyone who is facing cancer and any other diseases to always put their hope and trust in God, and that they should be courageous and look up to God the author and finisher of our faith as this is more clearly stated in Psalm 121: “My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.”

 

So, one secret that kept me glowing, even as I struggled with cancer and all the pain that is associated with it, is that I cherished the loving moments I spent with friends, my sister, and everybody that visited me in my lowest times. We played, laugh[ed], and prayed together. Those moments were indeed extraordinary, and they meant a lot to me.

 

I continue thanking God for giving me a peaceful mind, even when my health was challenged. Therefore, I am ending my story by recalling how Jonah called upon the name of the Lord in the time when he was distress[ed] right in the belly of the fish. Jonah 2:2: “In my distress I called to the Lord, and He answered me. From the depths of the grave I called for help and You listened to my cry.”

 

Do you want to help more young women like Hawa? You can by donating to COTN's emergency medical care fund.