Fighting with Hope

Despite years of skilled work as a mechanic, Yuraj* was jobless after a massive companywide downsizing. Weighing his options, he decided to apply for a work visa overseas.

His plans were derailed when the routine medical exam revealed that he was HIV positive. Ashamed, he did not tell his family and went to a different city to work as a driver. After a few months Yuraj became ill. His relatives took him to the hospital and doctors told Yuraj that they were going to test him for HIV. He didn’t tell them that he already knew what the result would be.

When his relatives found out that Yuraj was HIV positive, they left him in the hospital and returned home. After he was discharged he spent six months trying to drink his worries away. However abusing alcohol and ignoring his doctor’s advice only brought him back to the hospital.

Out of desperation he finally called his wife, Shanti*, and asked for her help. She immediately brought him home and tried to nurse him back to health. After two weeks he showed little improvement so not long after he traveled to Kathmandu to start antiretroviral therapy.

For nearly two years AIDSLink staff supported Yuraj as he battled hepatitis, gall bladder stones, tuberculosis, and many more infections. At one point Yuraj’s CD4 cell count, normally above 800 for a HIV negative person, dipped to a mere 17.

Outside of his family, the community was unaware of his HIV status and their indifference to his struggling health was isolating. Despite these obstacles he maintained a positive outlook and a strong desire to live. His hope and shared life in Christ made him especially dear to AIDSLink staff as prayers, scripture, and support were frequently exchanged.

Even after Shanti also tested positive for HIV and had to start ART, he did not give up and took it upon himself to encourage her as well.

Last fall his tuberculosis returned and had grown so severe that it spread to his intestines. Doctors began injecting the TB medicine but Yuraj’s weakened immune system couldn't handle it. An abscess formed that required immediate surgery, Yuraj didn’t have the money to pay. His family members and AIDSLink raised enough funds for the surgery to happen.

Despite the success of the surgery, Yuraj’s health declined further. His abdomen began to swell and doctors recommended a CT scan. The test was expensive, and again Yuraj’s family and AIDSLink had to scramble to find the money to pay for it. The CT scan revealed that Yuraj had advanced lymphoma. The news that he had cancer shook Yuraj. His resolve to live weakened.

Although doctors started treating his cancer immediately it was too little, too late. Three days after starting radiotherapy, Yuraj awoke in the middle of the night, sat up, and asked his wife to give him something to drink. As she gave him some hot water, she sensed that he had something weighing on his mind. Yuraj drank quietly, and asked “How much money do we owe?” Shanti answered him, “Why do you want to know? Get well, and then we will figure it out.” Yuraj seemed satisfied with her answer. “I feel sleepy,” he told her. “Let’s sleep.” He lay back down on his bed and Shanti rested her head at his feet and they both fell asleep. Early the next morning Shanti awoke but Yuraj did not stir. He had passed away quietly in his sleep.

*Names have been changed.

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