After two years, I am back to the National Mother’s and Children’s Hospital! The rooms and corridors may have changed, but the friendliness and hospitality of Mongols remain. I was completely overwhelmed and touched by my Mongol friends’ warm welcome, even the people that I had met only once or twice during my last visit!!
After a brief Meet’n’Greet with the Hematology/Oncology group with endless coffee, tea, crackers, and the famous dried milk curds (Cindy’s/Alex’s first), we started going through some treatment protocols. It certainly was very exciting to see that many of our recommendations from our first trip were put into clinical practice, including drugs we recommend to put on formulary, bone marrow needles, and diagnostic machineries. We were so excited, we wasted no time and started seeing patients.
There are MANY major differences between Americans and Mongolians: geographic locations, cultures, faiths, languages, traffic patterns, diets, etc., etc. However, in the Hematology/Oncology wards, we are drawn together by the same calling to heal, to comfort, and to love.
Entrusting the very lives of their most beloved children into the doctors’ hands, the parents’ eyes have the same mixed feelings of fear, uncertainty, and threads of hope… The same eyes that I saw two years ago. The same eyes that I see back home in the US.
We see little brave warriors fighting for their lives receiving chemotherapy drugs that even adults fear. We see a teenager girl broken into tears knowing that she needs to endure more vincristine infusions that cause her lots of pain with every dose. We see families fight on with courage despite relapses, side effects, and failures. We see worried fathers sitting at the end of the bed, wandering outside of the rooms sharing his deep love and concern in silence. We see mothers comforting suffering children with their loving arms and big hugs. We see the same heroic stories beyond skin colours, cultures, and medical backgrounds back home and here in Mongolia.
However, in the dark and partially ventilated Oncology ward, we also see angels in white coats who bring hope to every dark corner. They may not be able to cure every patient, but I see the same hands of Mongolian and American doctors delivering not only the best skills in healing, but also care, comfort, and hope to the families they serve. In their eyes, I see the same passion and determination to cure as possible. It is our honour to fight along side our Mongolian counterparts again to battle childhood cancers together. May our busy week start!