A Brush with Death

A Brush with Death

By: Brandy Campbell, with Ephraim Lindor from Haiti   |   Posted: August 14, 2008

Girl Finds Hope, Then Life, Through Compassion Programs

Macuta was 9 when she was diagnosed with cancer. Now 12, she is healthy and active, thanks to the support of her sponsor and Compassion's Complementary Interventions program.

Macuta found hope early in life. At age 3, she was enrolled at the Source Baptiste Child Development Center (HA-737). While other children in Aquin suffered with malaria, parasites and malnutrition, Macuta received regular checkups and nutritious food.

When Macuta was 5, she began learning her letters and numbers, valuable knowledge in light of the fact that nearly a third of the adults in her community are illiterate. In a country where more than half of adults live on less than U.S.$1 a day, Macuta found hope.

But hope wasn't enough to protect Macuta from the sudden stomach pains she began feeling when she was 9. At first, her parents thought her pains were caused by something she had eaten. But when they found Macuta curled up on her sleeping mat clutching her abdomen in tears, they knew this was more than a stomachache.


It didn't take doctors long to find the source of Macuta's pain. A large knot of tumors had formed in her ovaries. The surgery to remove the tumors would cost U.S.$400, more than two years' wages for Macuta's parents. They didn't have that kind of money, and Macuta's doctor would not perform the surgery knowing her family could not afford it.

Macuta's parents went to the child development center. There, a Compassion health specialist helped Macuta's parents wade through complicated medical information about their daughter's surgery. The program also provided the money for her surgery.

With the expenses of her surgery covered, Macuta's doctor carefully removed the mass of tumors. Days passed and Macuta's parents waited to hear if their nightmare was over.

It wasn't. 

Macuta had cancer. And without chemotherapy, there was no way to stop the disease from spreading. But the six chemotherapy sessions needed to treat her cost U.S.$10,000, an amount Macuta's parents could not earn in a lifetime.

"All I could see," says Simon, Macuta's father, "was death. We couldn't even afford the money needed for her surgery. And then this."


Simon returned to the Source Baptiste center, seeking any kind of advice. The health specialist took action again, this time applying for a grant from Compassion's Complementary Interventions program.

Sponsorship funds cover many of a child's basic needs such as food, water and education. But sometimes circumstances arise that require more money. That's where Compassion's Complementary Interventions (CIV) Fund helps.

In the past year, CIV has provided funding for the intense medical needs of thousands of children, including Macuta. The grant that her health specialist secured from CIV allowed Macuta to immediately begin chemotherapy at a local hospital.

"Compassion was on my side during that difficult time," says Simon. "The health specialist took charge of our case. Every single bill for the chemotherapy and the medicine were paid for."


Chemotherapy was difficult for Macuta. She was often ill and lost all of her hair. But through it all, program staff surrounded her with prayer and support. They checked on Macuta often and soon began reporting back to the center that she was regaining her strength. The day Macuta returned she was greeted with claps and cheers.
It has been three years since Macuta was diagnosed with cancer. Now 12 and in full remission, she is active in her Sunday school class and loves playing with her friends at the center. But after a brush with death, Macuta understands the importance of life and hope. She dreams of being a nurse, "so I can help save the lives of other kids like me."

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