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A heartbreak

Jan 18, 2016

By Laura Sumner Coon

Jeanmarie Sharp occasionally travels to this mission and to Haiti each year. She has seen many disappointing cases, but this one breaks her heart.

She follows her patient out of the examining room and points him to the pharmacy. Then, she turns to say, “There is just nothing I can do but relieve his pain and refer him to a specialist.”

“He has a huge mass behind his eye,” she says, motioning to the lanky, tanned man in his 40s who just left. About four months ago, he had a pain and blurriness in his eye. His boss would not let him off of work, and he could not afford to take time anyway. Now, he is completely blind in that eye, which bulges from his face, disfigured by the tumor that’s undoubtedly behind it. His whole neck is swollen on that side, and his lymph nodes seem to be effected by the mass.

“It’s likely cancer,” she says. “I feel like I just sent him off to die.”

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