A few months ago at the start of my medical treatment, I contrasted the Fortunate Last Mile with the Not-So-Fortunate Last Mile. Now that I am nearing the end of what I jokingly refer to as my “Swedish spa treatments,” I would like to add a few additional thoughts. The second part of my treatment has involved chemotherapy and radiation treatment. The picture shows me receiving radiation through a device called an Electra Linear Accelerator at the Swedish Cancer Institute Swedish Cancer Institute in Seattle. The device costs approximately $6 million to install and I am fortunate it is available at my health center. With this level of medical resources available to me, my doctors expect a full recovery.
In contrast, Stacey Cunningham, VillageReach’s Project Manager for our Malawi Maternal, Newborn, and Child Health Project Malawi Maternal, Newborn, and Child Health Project recently sent pictures of a village clinic operated by VillageReach and the Malawi Ministry of Health. These mothers are seeking medical treatment for their young children to prevent them from dying from afflictions common to their area: malaria, pneumonia and diarrhea. The village clinics are rudimentary but effective in treating medical challenges that are barely given a second thought in the United States. Unfortunately, medical resources are still very limited and far too many children die of easily preventable diseases.
When faced with a serious medical challenge, it’s common to be overwhelmed with a rush of thoughts and emotions. In the midst of that swirl, the picture of this young boy caught my eye. With a simple twist of fate our birth places could have been reversed. I can’t say I have sorted out the bigger picture, but I do know there is a serious problem with lack of access to quality healthcare and it’s time to act. And for me, it’s personal.