Ever since Maurice Carter days I’ve had negative feelings about prison health care. Maurice had been diagnosed with Hepatitis C 7 years earlier, but no one bothered to tell him until the day he collapsed in his cell. I know I’m painting with a broad brush here. I’m sure there are some caring health care people in the prison system. But based on our experience, I contend there’s an unfeeling and uncaring mood that is pervasive among prison health care professionals.
We lost Marc Janness a few days ago…a name I had never heard of until very recently. And the death of this prisoner is still troubling me.
For Marc, it started with a sore mouth…and now I’m wondering just how much and how long he had to pester health professionals before he even got a diagnosis, let alone treatment. Anyway, turns out it was gum cancer. Fast forward to April 25. That’s when one of his buddies emailed our office:
…in the past 20 days (the cancer) has grown from his gum into his lip and is now the size of a tennis ball on his face. The state is dragging their feet and are blocking what doctors are recommending. Can you please do something for this fellow Christian who can’t even eat food? He needs immediate attention.
I wonder if Marc even got my email saying that we were frantically trying, and that we were praying for him.
I wonder if he was aware of the fact that HFP promptly forwarded a letter from our kind and helpful oncologist/adviser directly to his warden: This man should be evaluated by an oncologist as soon as possible. A tissue biopsy is critical. His life may be at stake. And that two days later we sent still another message to the warden from a second oncologist: If he were not in prison I’d suggest he go directly to a hospital emergency room.
As I thought about it over the weekend, I felt Marc might be comforted just to know that somebody cared. So I printed out everything we had done, including the oncologist messages, in hopes of sending all to him with a note of compassion. I looked up his mailing address, and that’s when I discovered this notice:
Discharged (meaning he died)
Discharge Date: 5/4/2017
I know. We should be used to it by now. Too little, too late. Wasn’t the first time. Won’t be the last. I had simply wanted Marc to know that, despite a cold and uncaring system, there was a little cluster of people, inside and outside, who cared and who wanted to help. It wouldn’t cure the cancer, but it might soothe the mind.
Thank God, he’s where there’s no more pain, no more suffering, no more tears.
Not so back here.