There is no cure for your disease

I will translate.

This is her big day! She meets her specialist for the first time, excited to finally hear that she will be cured of her nasty illness.

I’m there to interpret back and forth between her and her doctor to get over the language barrier.

She has long suffered from this terrible disease that affects multiple organ systems in her fragile body.

Today she is ready!

She fled her war-torn hometown with her family to a famous refugee camp in the neighboring country and then to the place of her dreams, America.

She lost her older sister to this monster disease while fleeing in the camp.

She was told that in America they have a definitive cure for her illness.

Here I am, introducing her and her father to the specialist, her first ever doctor in America.

She is shy yet excited to say goodbye to her illness.

I translate many questions about her history, which she answers impatiently.

She wants to speed up the encounter to the ultimate cure, she’s ready!

After evaluating her, her doctor begins to explain the treatment of certain aspects of her illness and the possible involvement of other disciplines in health care.

I translate.

But what about the cure? I don’t want to hear it in between. I came here for the end.

I translate.

We still have a long way to go to improve your diet and overall health first. There are many other doctors who will be involved in your care. They will decide when to send you to the ongoing clinical trials.

I translate.

“As of this moment there is no cure for your illness,” the doctor concludes.


I will translate.

I am collecting my words and this is taking me time.
My feelings overwhelm me.
My cheeks burn, my pupils dilate and my ears deny.

But I will translate.

I’m about to start translating, but her words hold me back. Her excitement that calls the end, her radiant look that radiates hope, her smile that fights the pain, everything in her holds me back.

But I will translate.

Her future plans for her new life without the disease are holding me back.

But I will translate.

Her journey with her parents and her other siblings is holding me back.

But I will translate.

I close my eyes. I turn my heart off. I shut off my brain. I hold my breath.

I translate.

There is no cure for your disease.

The end.

Houda Bouhmam is a radiology resident.

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