Gashangi in December 2012 – When rangers first noticed the lesion on her lip.
It is with heavy hearts that we must announce the passing of adult female, Gashangi, of the Humba family. She battled melanoma for the last year and a half. During this time, the Gorilla Doctors did everything in their power to save her. Nine months ago Dr. Dawn Zimmerman tried to excise the tumor on Gashangi”s lip, but the tumor grew back with a vengeance. Dr. Jan Ramer recently tried a different treatment, but it too failed. A little over a week ago, Gashangi’s tumor literally began to explode and she became too sick to eat. Rangers found her away from the main group and in a severely weakened state. Southern Sector Warden, Innocent Mburanumwe, called in the Gorilla Doctors to see if there might still be something they could do to save her, or at a minimum, make her more comfortable.
Drs. Jan Ramer and Eddy Syaluha gathered their equipment and hiked in to find Gashangi the next morning. When they reached her, it was clear she had been suffering terribly. The mass on her face made eating next to impossible and the enlarged lymph nodes under her arms indicated the cancer had likely spread to other parts of her body. At this point, it became quite clear the intervention was going to be about palliative care, not curing Gashangi. Jan decided the tumor had to be surgically reduced if Gashangi was to have any chance of eating. The actual procedure went well, but as Gashangi’s was being brought out of general anesthesia, she slipped away.
Although everyone is sad to lose her, we can take solace in the fact that Gashangi lived a full life. She was a wonderful mother to her offspring and managed to flourish during some of eastern Congo’s most trying times. With that good fortune in mind, we bid Gashangi a loving farewell.