No doom and gloom just bravery and beauty

Chantelle Msumbuga

What’s the connection between Charles Dickens and this: Should have died in infancy. Didn’t. At the age of four had meningitis and went into a coma. Recovered. Had a stroke with complications that lasted a year. Survived. Major blood transfusions. Long term organ damage. Hours of chelation therapy five times a week to reduce iron overload from blood transfusions. Bruising, discoloration, pain, pain, pain…

Dickens is renowned for cataloging the suffering of the poor and downtrodden, but this is not the torment visited by his imagination on some poor character. It’s real suffering. It’s what happens when a young girl is born with sickle cell anaemia.

A young girl like Chantelle Msumbuga. She’s now a young woman – almost 16 years old. Last weekend she told me and some others about the succession of pain and setbacks she’s undergone in her short life. And she was so cheerful and beautiful as she told it. Her blog is here. She educated us about the condition and the very invasive and intensive treatment she received at Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) for Children.

Liliane’s lovely buns – you have to bite through the head of Charles Dickens to taste them.

Now do you get it?

After JM Barrie and Peter Pan, Charles Dickens is the famous figure most associated with this London hospital for children. Shortly after it opened, he helped save it from bankrupcy and to double in size.

That’s why Charles Dickens fan Christopher West (who also lectures under the nom de plume Charles Dickens London) arranged a special Dickens Day to raise funds for GOSH – to mark the connection between writer and hospital during this year, the 200th anniversary of Dickens’s birth.

Liliane the beautiful cake maker from the Cote d’Ivoire

Oh – there’s another reason too. It’s not just Chantelle who medical staff at GOSH are helping. They also saved the life of Christopher’s granddaughter not so long ago. So, like Chantelle he’s also saying thank you for personal reasons.

Chantelle and Christopher were helped and supported by lots of other people too. People like the Kings College Chorus, schools, experts and Liliane. She’s from the Cote d’Ivoire, has beautfully accented French, beautiful buns (no not that! I do actually mean the buns in the picture) and is just beautiful.

There was a lot of beauty around that day – and that includes you too Mr Christopher West. Even in your fake beard.

The bearded beauty Christopher West – Charles Dickens London.

I was supposed to be writing on the theme of doom and gloom for the regular Friday theme set by the Loose Bloggers Consortium, but as you’ve seen, I was distracted. Not for the first time.

You can see how closely the rest of the LBC stuck to the brief by scrolling down the right hand side of the screen and clicking on their links.

Or you can donate online to the GOSH appeal here.



Filed under art, D - Loose Bloggers Consortium, friends

22 responses to “No doom and gloom just bravery and beauty

  1. The story of how The Lamplighter came to be, begins with William Charles Macready, actor and theatre manager, and one of the great dramatic figures of Dickens’s time. Macready was ranked among the finest of Shakespearean actors, second only to Kean, and Dickens idolized the great performer for much of his young life. He wrote Macready: “I think I have told you sometimes, my much-loved friend, how, when I was a mere boy, I was one of your faithful and devoted adherents in the Pit—I believe as true a member of that true host of followers as it has ever boasted. As I improved myself and was improved by favoring circumstances in mind and fortune, I only became the more earnest (if it were possible) in my study of you” (Pilgrim 6:301).

  2. rummuser

    Writing about doom and gloom is easy. Writing this is a fantastic exercise on what can be done instead of experiencing gloom and doom. Remarkable people!

  3. 29

    What an eclectic mix you have from day to day in your blog. This blog with its reference to blood transfusions justified me this week, I gave my regular donation on Monday.

  4. interesting take on the subject!
    thanks for visiting my blog a while back….i’m a slovenly blogger these days so i have become terrible at replies but i enjoy having a new reader 🙂

  5. Thank you, Paul. I really enjoyed your take on the topic and it really helped lift my spirits.

  6. Yep – that young lady os definitely a hero – thanks for enlightening us Paul

  7. We have a friend whose young son is afflicted with sickle cell. It is especially difficult, as sometime he must close his business and rush to the school to take the boy to the hospital.

    There is another friend who is in serious condition with sickle cell. Many people don’t realize this is a life-threatening illness.

    My heart goes out to this brave, young girl.
    Blessings ~ Maxi

    • blackwatertown

      Because it tends to hit African and Caribbean people, it doesn’t get the attention or understanding it deserves more widely.

  8. Heartlifting post. Glad I visited.

  9. What a beautiful young woman, Chantelle is and what a story of courage and positive attitude.
    I know nothing about this hospital, but I was fascinated by the tribute to your medical care portrayed during the opening to the Olympics.

  10. To cope with such a serious illness without succumbing to regular doom and gloom requires plenty of resilience and adaptability. My sister is amazingly stoical about the effects of Motor Neurone Disease, despite the way it has totally disrupted her life.

  11. You and these beautiful people moved me, Paul. Ours has been a tough week of death and support in our family and I feel ever so humbly the courage people exhibit over and over and over. Thank you for what you placed here.

  12. Yes, it was a fabulous day for me and all the volunteers who gave freely of their time and energy. There were numerous inspirational speakers and performers, and Chantelle shone superbly as a beacon of hope and courage; she also illustrated just how splendid is the treatment and care she receives at Great Ormond Street Hospital, please do contribute- GOSH needs to raise £50m every year, to keep its excellent service available;

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