I was in Singapore for 5 days in the mid-August for a mammogram, ultrasound, biopsy and to consult my oncologist about a mass I have. We just learned yesterday that the mass is benign and are relieved for that news, and also that another trip to Singapore for treatments isn’t needed. Praise be to God!
Having had cancer 13 years ago (non-Hodgkins lymphoma), doctors have cautioned me to be more vigilant about getting examined regularly. It’s possible that the effects of the cancer treatments could cause other cancers or simply that we know my body hasn’t resolved cancerous cells in the past and may not in the future. Living in Papua isn’t accommodating for regular check ups as there are no imaging machines (except ultrasound) or medical specialists to consult. When I talked to an American missionary doctor we have with us here in town she said there is nothing that can be done for me on this island. She suggested I get a flight to Singapore soon and due to the fact that I have a history of cancer, I should not wait until our scheduled furlough next Spring. I feel grateful that I am able to go to a qualified doctor and also humbled that many of my Indonesian friends are not able to afford it.
This discussion with the doctor occurred on a Sunday evening Wycliffe family meeting and the next morning Courtney began making plans for my trip. By Tuesday afternoon he had the flight, hotel, doctor appointment and imaging completely scheduled. Though, at the time, I felt it was all moving too fast for me and I wanted more time to process it all, by the end of the week I was looking forward to going on the trip and getting the exams done.
Singapore is a 3,ooo mile trip requiring an international transfer through Jakarta. The most daunting part of the trip was to travel alone though I don’t feel it is dangerous or a bad idea for a woman to travel alone here. For one thing, it’s quite a bit more boring. Also, I’m not the keenest one on finding my way through airports and getting in the right lines (this is why it’s great that my husband is a pilot!). I asked a few friends whether they could join me for the trip, but nothing worked out. God was showing me He was with me through it all and I could face it with Him by my side. And, of course, it all turned out fine. During the first flight I realized once again how different things are in Indonesia. One passenger a couple rows behind me was loudly singing his Islamic prayers on the plane. Even among other Indonesian passengers it was quite awkward and others shared some looks and chuckles. Another person was smoking a cigarette during flight. I didn’t see it, but could certainly smell it. I couldn’t imagine a petite stewardess confronting a man about it and hoped the situation would resolve soon. Fortunately, it did. But just a while longer another cigarette was lit again.
Visiting Singapore was a welcomed change into the Western culture from the Indonesian culture. Streets and the air are clean. People have order, politely stand in lines, and businesses everywhere provide free wi-fi. I felt refreshed just to be back in a culture more familiar to my own (and it included some great Indian and Asian foods!). The appointments for the mammogram, ultrasound and doctor’s went smoothly. Things are done efficiently in Singapore compared to the USA. Imaging was done at noon and my results and discussion with the doctor was at 4 pm the same day. Seeing that there is a mass of 2cm the doctor wanted to do a biopsy which was scheduled for the next morning. After that appointment, we agreed I could obtain the biopsy report via email and I could travel back home to Papua.
My return flight was two days later after the doctor appointments concluded. It was refreshing to have time to enjoy some rest, quiet, time with the Lord, reading, extra cups of hot tea, neat walks in the Botanic Gardens and orchid gardens any time of the day and visits with some other missionaries staying at the guesthouse. I happened to ride business class for the same price as economy because it was the last seat on the plane. This is especially nice because it was a 6 hour night flight and I had room to sleep. Another benefit of business class is picking up your luggage from the front office and not having to retrieve it from the baggage carousel. I didn’t know of this and I waited til the end watching every other passenger collect their bag. I was anxious to get out of the airport and the pushy, noisy, clamoring crowd. I was only five minutes to arriving home once out the airport doors and I just couldn’t see my luggage come through. An airport clerk saw I was looking for luggage and asked for my boarding pass. He led me to the nearby office to get my suitcase and I was swiftly on my way home. It reminded me of Psalms 103 “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me. Bless His holy name. Forget not all his benefits…” I wondered, how often do we not fully know the Lord’s benefits and not utilize what’s available to us as His children? Lord, may we not forget!