By Joyce Ashuntantang, Ph.D.
Today, January 6th 2011, my cousin, Joan Bechem-Agbor Arrey, will start her final journey to her resting place in her husband’s village in Akak, Manyu Division, Cameroon; another victim of the dreaded disease, Breast Cancer. Joan was only 34! It was actually a few days ago, on the 24th of December, Christmas Eve, when I kissed Joan and wished her, a safe trip to Cameroon. The United States health care system had done its best and come to the end of what they could do. Her dedicated sister-in-law, Mrs. Christy Arrey Akoachere and her husband had done their best too and re-defined the notion of “in-law-ship”, but even they had to come to terms with the fact that they could do no more. Our greatest wish now was to see Joan reunited with her husband and family in Cameroon. Her husband Mr. Johnson Arrey had visited her in the summer and was hoping for a better outcome but things went downhill unexpectedly. It was a painful separation when I took leave of Joan as she left for Logan Airport. In fact, it was a slow two hour plus drive back to West hartford, Connecticut. My wheels rode on the lines of my tears as I drove to my kids who were innocently waiting for their mom to make christmas happen.
The last time I saw my cousin Joan before this time must have been when she was probably around eight years old. I was not in Cameroon when she blossomed into a beautiful woman, earned her degree from University of Buea, and became the respectable wife of Mr. Johnson Arrey, Delegate of Land Tenure and State Properties, Meme Division, Cameroon. I might have missed seeing Joan when her outer beauty was radiant but I thank God for bringing me close to her when her inner beauty shone like a light house. Joan, known as Mbockayah, to her family members, faced the disease that ravaged her body with fortitude and calm. It must have been God’s design that I should meet with her at this time because she gave me gifts I will always treasure.