Netty’s Story

Patient name  Netty
Age  13 years old
Admission date  6 February 2009

Patient history

Netty was admitted at midnight on Friday, 6th February. She had insisted on going home after leaving Dharmais National Cancer Hospital, refusing to be admitted to Rachel House. However, by the evening of her first day home, we received a panic call for help as Netty had trouble breathing.

Netty suffered from end-stage Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma with metastases to her lungs. She was on 5 litres of oxygen every day, battling bouts of high fever. She was weak, lying quietly in bed, lifeless and without smiles.

At Rachel House

Netty was from Bengkulu. A day after her arrival, she wanted to go home to see the family that she had left behind 10 months ago, when she came to Jakarta for treatment with her parents.

One of our donors responded and flew Netty’s family to Jakarta. Arrangements were promptly made (as we were not sure how much time Netty had), and her brother appeared in the ward on the evening of the 7th of February. Netty was beside herself with joy; she sat up and flashed the brightest smile we had seen on her face since her arrival!

While Netty was happy to see her brother, her condition continued to deteriorate fast. Netty had said her farewell to each member of her family, asking for their forgiveness and saying that she would not return home with them.

Netty’s father never left her side. With tears in his eyes, he would cradle her in bed to comfort her, and held her every night to go to sleep. During the day, he would often sit behind her and cradle her in his arms.

In week 2, we began to see positive change. Her fever had stopped breaking through and breathing had begun to normalize; Netty was beginning to be more confident and less fearful of the impending death.

When she started perking up, our team wheeled her out to the garden with her oxygen tank. Netty was ecstatic! This is the same girl who just a few days ago was preparing herself to die. That night, Netty was dancing (in bed) to the music she found on our nurse’s handphone.

It was incredible to witness the transformation of Rachel House nurses during Netty’s stay. They worked hard to hold Netty’s spirits up, and were determined to give Netty the joyful living that a teenager like her deserved. The team crossed all cultural and professional barriers and stepped beyond the call of duty.

Netty’s last days & the family’s journey

Netty was doing so well that we had begun exercising her limbs, preparing her for the possibility of returning to Bengkulu with her family (32 hours by road and sea journey). Everyone was excited.

However, time caught up with us. Her fever came back. Within 2 days, Netty was unconscious. Her family made a decision to allow her to slip away quietly, without any further intervention. Netty died 3 days after the fever returned.