The Mission of Global Healing and Bridging the Gap

“I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across waters to create many ripples” Mother Theresa, or in the words of the Dalai Lama, “Just as ripples spread out when a single pebble is dropped into water, the action of individuals can have far reaching effects”.

When I graduated from medical school, I took an oath that every doctor recites. It’s a commitment to the well-being of our patients and to first do no harm. It doesn’t say only promote the well-being of those with health insurance, a particular race, white or black, religion, Christian, Muslim, Jewish, or gender, sexual orientation, young or old. Although, I was educated and trained in the United States it didn’t say to only provide excellent care to Americans. Or only to those in well developed countries like Australia, where I currently reside. When you take this oath, you understand that human beings are human beings no matter where you are. This being human involves experiencing the physical challenge of illness. A phenomenon that we will each experience including myself. Regardless of our cultural differences and languages, we are all the same in that regard and we share far more similarities than differences.

During the last 10 years, I have been fortunate to have had the opportunity to work in Africa, Asia and throughout South America as a surgical volunteer. I have been privileged to work with IMA Helps for 7 years predominately in South America and I call them family. I refer to our missions as a family reunion. My most recent trips this year, 2019 have taken me to Nepal and Paraguay. At the beginning of each mission there is a feeling of optimism and excitement, but as the days become fewer the supplies dwindle, we realise time is also dwindling and there are still more people that are struggling. The hardest part of the mission is to turn people away as time runs out. It is always my hope that one of the patients that I treat will live a life that will impact the world. We don’t always realise the impact of our actions.

Bridging the Gap - Dr Emilia Dauway
Dr Emilia Dauway - Giving

During missions, I commonly perform general surgical procedures such as inguinal hernia repairs and gallbladder surgery. But my passion is treating cancer, particularly breast cancer. I am asked more and more to see women with breast disease during missions. Breast cancer is the most common cancer affecting women in the world and it is increasing globally. Although, we have breast imaging such as mammograms, ultrasound, and MRI, as well as, advanced treatments these are not available worldwide. When I was in Paraguay, I was asked to see a woman who had a breast mass. She was told it wasn’t anything to worry about and most likely benign. When I evaluated her breast, I knew that it was cancer as it was coming through the skin. I had to do a needle biopsy which I performed with a dull needle which was meant to be single use but had been recycled for repeated use. The woman had to go to the bank to pay and take the specimen herself to a pathology office. Then it took days to get the results. We walked with her home to know where she lived, since she did not have a phone for us to communicate. She would require a mastectomy and the drains that are commonly required she would have to purchase. This woman, a mother of 5 children, would require chemotherapy and radiation which are only offered at one national hospital. Her care would not be completely subsidized. And I couldn’t help but wonder what will happen to her and her 5 children after we have left. Who would care for them during her treatments or who would care for them if she did not receive treatment? This story is one of many similar stories.

But imagine what happens to women who have young children that do not have access to breast cancer treatment. They die. And then what happens to their children? What happens if that child is a girl? In some parts of the world, families will sell them. Human trafficking has surpassed the illegal sale of drugs and firearms with 25 million trafficked a year. This creates and contributes to an ongoing global crisis.

For me my volunteer work is essential. It not only has taught me tolerance of others that are seemingly different but, I have gained an awareness of how connected we are and how small our planet. There is a phenomenon called the butterfly effect which evolved from the Chaos Theory. It means a small change within a complex system could give rise to a tidal wave. And although it may seem as if there are insurmountable problems in the world just as there is a ripple effect of one woman dying and losing her children to poverty the opposite is true as well. Every man and woman, every girl and boy, we are all connected. Sometimes an act may be small, and may cause a tidal wave of good. Each of us have a gift, a unique quality and something to offer the universe. You don’t have to travel to Africa, Asia or anywhere else. Small acts of kindness and compassion matter. How we treat each other matters. Our neighbour, our co-workers, the stranger matters. You matter. I matter.

So, what is “Bridging the Gap”? “Bridging the Gap” is an exciting opportunity to allow every patient, despite their own physical challenge of illness requiring surgery, to give to a person in need. A portion of your “gap payment”, I will donate on your behalf to help reach one of many UN Global goals. If you’re not familiar with the 17 UN Global Goals then click here to learn more from the YouTube ‘We The People’ for The Global Goals. Now through “ Bridging the Gap”, you too can join me in making an impact.

My final words are those of Fred Rogers, “If only you could sense how important you are to the lives of those you meet. How important you can be to the people you may never even dream to meet. There is something of yourself that you leave at every meeting with another person.” For me, each mission I leave something of myself behind, a bit of knowledge and some healing for someone that matters.

Dr. Emilia Dauway, MD, FACS, FRACS

Dr Emilia Dauway

By incorporating yoga and mindfulness in her surgical practice, Dr Emilia Dauway empowers women to live without fear through mindful living.

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