Dr. Vincent Degennaro Jr. '02 | May 7, 2014 | Notre Dame Magazine
Jean Claude initially came to the Project Medishare hospital with a large belly full of fluid, his abdomen protruding as if he were nine months pregnant. He had difficulty going to the bathroom two months earlier and had had a colonoscopy with a biopsy that demonstrated colon cancer. A typical story of a patient who slowly developed the signs and symptoms of colon cancer, except for his young age — 24.
Over the next six months, Jean Claude would travel a journey too serious for a man, a boy really, of his age. I was blessed to bear witness to his journey, the slow march to eternity, understanding where it would end.
When he arrived, Jean Claude spoke to the medical team in near perfect English, with no discernable accent, only the cadence of his speech betraying that he was born and raised in Haiti. That October morning, he told us his story in a gentle, clear voice, his perceptive mother looking on, not understanding the language that he spoke, but fully comprehending the sadness and pain that he recounted. Despite the discomfort, he exuded enthusiasm, ready to conquer the battle that lay ahead.