By Maria McTarnaghan
(visited MCM in July 2018)
The first time I met Office – yes, that is his name, spelled just like the “real” word that we Americans use to describe where we work – he was running around in a pair of tan pajamas with monkey faces plastered all over them, chasing a soccer ball, laughing and giggling with the energy of an 8 year old shining through.
So many of the children at MCM have shining and spectacular personalities, but, as with any group, there are always a few outliers, and Office is definitely an outlier.
With his sweet smile, his handsome deep, bright brown eyes, the color of chocolate right before it melts, with a giggle that is so deep it makes your heart leap and literally forces you to smile, he is definitely someone who makes his presence known.
Office is happy, innocent, fun-loving, silly, and a teensy-bit naughty to his sisters and his teachers.
In June 2019, Office started experiencing severe headaches and extreme dizziness. He was eventually diagnosed with Medulloblastoma, which is a cancerous tumor found at the base of his skull. To have any chance of defeating this terrible disease, Office would need to undergo radiation and chemotherapy.
The first of many hurdles was trying to find a hospital that could provide his radiation treatments. There were none in the country of Malawi, but there was a facility in Tanzania – which is almost 700 miles away.
In September, Office, his mother Rose along with Phoebe, MCM’s Director of Social Services, boarded their first-ever airplane ride where they would embark on a very scary and uncharted journey. Office and his mother left behind his 3 other siblings, in a makeshift home because theirs had been ravaged by the floods that March. Their new home was in the process of being rebuilt but would not be ready for a few months.
After 22 rounds of radiation in Tanzania over 2 months, followed by 45 rounds of chemotherapy back in Malawi, Office is now stronger. He is eating, drinking and growing. He is reading, writing and tackling math problems. Even his hair has started to grow back, albeit a bit different than before, a fact that Office doesn’t like so much so he dons a hat each day. It seems like, as least for today, he is cancer-free, but unfortunately the only MRI machine in Malawi is temporarily broken, so as with all things, time will tell.
With determination and grit, a mother’s love, a caring community with limited resources, a little luck, a lot of prayers and support from MCM’s generous donors, Office continues to shine, to laugh and to bring joy to his friends, teachers and family.