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Be not ashame of yuh sickness

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Sister Ballah nee Lewis made ah strong request of me last week. Foh those who don’t know or remember Sister Ballah, well she is from de fair-most Lewis family from Can-One;{{more}}

she came to Kingstown in de 1960’s to be trained as a Nurse, and what ah One-dah-full professional she was, dey don’t mek Nurses like dem ole time ones anymore; mind yuh ah not saying dey don’t have good Nurses today.

But before she could get thru her Nursing, one T.P. Ballah, ah senior Customs Officer saw her early, maybe the very day she arrived on the Port, built ah steel cage around her and block anybody else from seeing her. First, Sister Ballah was congratulating me foh sharing my experiences overcoming my battle with Pass-straight Cancer. She begged me to continue reminding the men about de need to do de PSA Test. “One thing,” she warned, “call de ting by its correct name, Prostate.” She den explained dat two men on ah Mini Van almost came to blows over the correct name, Pass-straight vs Prostate? De winner argued dat de man who does write in de Newspaper say is Pass-straight, because he got it.

Way dat name is concerned, those who want to give it professional status and call it Pro-state, fine and dandy; I know it was going thru my area and when it met me, it refuse to Pass-straight.

So foh Sister Ballah sake, ah will write again, and ah beg to be forgiven if ah continue to bore readers wid my Pass-straight experience.

About eight months ago, one night ah went to de bathroom to Pee not less than six times. Dr Garraway sent me foh ah PSA Test and my reading was 28.0, ley me spell it out, “twenty-eight point zero” much too high. De Doctors are usually concerned when the reading is above 4.0. So ah was way beyond my over-draft.

Doctor G put me on antibiotics, and de PSA went down to 23. 0; den he handed me over to Dr De Shong who specializes in Pass-straight, and trust me, he is Good! Quite knowledgeable on dis subject. De PSA went down to 18. 0 before De Shong disclosed dat dey was evidence ah Cancer Cells dat had to be treated. Of all de options available, he recommended Radiation wid Hormones. De choice ah country was Trinidad, de USA or Canada. Ah heard at de time dat dey were having problems in T’N’T so ah phoned both my sister and my buddy from youth, Dr. David Joyette, asking dem to find me ah clinic in Canada. Within hours, acting separately, dey both came up wid “Princess Margaret Hospital” in Toronto. My next battle was finding all de cash one time, to pay up-front before ah could get an appointment, and we talking Big Bucks! Ah later discovered dat de Hospital was not being mean, is just dat too many far-rain patients, had outstanding amounts foh de Hospital dat was never paid, so it was Peter pay foh Paul, and Paul pay foh All, in dis case I was Paul. Ah hope ah not sounding like ah show box but, ah was told to share my story because it will save lives, men’s lives. Radiation foh Pass-straight Cancer is ah friendly treatment. Ah had to do 39 treatments, one ah day, five days ah week. Each treatment takes about seven minutes wid the actual Radiation taking about 3 minutes, no pain, no burning, no chemicals etc. Sometimes yuh could have side effects like nausea, die-ah-rear etc, but being an exercise freak and ah lover ah fruits, ah escaped de side effects. Ah must big-up de team ah lovely young people administering de treatment. At de end ah de Radiation, my Doctors, Catton from Canada and Cuthbert, ah youngster from T’n’T said dat dey would ah like to keep me around foh ah while but, dey were convinced dat De Shong could do de rest, so: “go back and meet De Shong, tell him to forward de results of any PSA Tests to us” dey said. Doctor Catton was convinced everything was fine, he was looking foh ah PSA reading of about 2. 0, it could increase ah bit at de end of de Hormone treatment, but will eventually level off below de accepted 4. 0.

Eight weeks after treatment ah did my first Test, and ah waited patiently or is it impatiently on Dr De Shong, no word, so ah went to his office, kind ah pan-aching. Calmly he asked me what ah worrying about, dat he had seen de results and dey were good, very good actually, my PSA is now 0.2, ley me spell it out again, zero point two. And of course all yuh done know, every bit ah de praise goes to God! Ah got ah lot ah support from ah lot ah people, Family, friends, Doctors, Church family, even Lie-Za who wishes to be among my NME. At de end ah my treatment, ah told Dr Catton, dat my heart bleeds foh my brothers at home who might be having Pass-straight problems, but dey fraid to do de test. Ah told him de big problem is my people cannot afford to come to Canada foh such expensive treatment. Dr Catton is ah funny man he said “ I agree wid dem foh resenting de test, it is uncomfortable, but it is essential.” His parting words were : “Tell your brothers in SVG, to get demselves tested, treatment is available and dey can be cured.” So men it’s all in our Coat!

Sickness or disease, whether Cancer, Die-or-be-tease, Owe-Beast, Heart or whatever, is not something to con-seal and kept as ah secret, it is nothing to mock or joke about either. Dey are those among us who will be ingenuine; but dey are many out dey, who will run to yuh rescue, if yuh keep yuh sickness private and hush up, yuh will never get de needed help and support. My theory is dat, If we live long nuff, some kind ah sickness will hold on to us, it may not Pass-straight, don’t be ashamed. In my humble situation, ah offering to share my experience wid anyone who so desires, any help in terms ah information, moral support, words of comfort. Don’t be afraid, our conversation will be con-fee-den-shell.

And wid dat is gone ah gone again. One Love Bassy

Bassy Alexander is a land surveyor, folklorist and social commentator.

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