Marcus Ramlal, 34, is a fighter in the truest sense of the word. He has had more than 20 operations for cancer-related surgeries and complications.
When he was 21, his appendix became enlarged and ruptured. While undergoing emergency surgery, the surgeons discovered that his appendix was pushed out of his wound to reveal a cancer-infected colon. Ramlal had his colon removed. He used a colostomy bag for almost a year, could not eat any solid food for ten months, and was only on drips. His weight moved from a healthy 175 lbs to 75 lbs as he hovered between life and death. In addition, he underwent a J-pouch surgery and chemotherapy.
In June, Ramlal went to the Port-of-Spain General Hospital (POSGH) as he was experiencing pain in his stomach and leg, the latter caused by a blood clot.
While preparing him for another procedure, a CT (computerised tomography) scan of his abdominal and pelvic region revealed that cancer had spread to his abdomen, lungs and possibly liver. He was diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer.
On the day Ramlal went for a biopsy, he was tested positive for COVID-19 and he was removed from Ward 1 at the POSGH. Still writhing in pain and under the effects of anaesthesia, he woke up in an ambulance taking him to the St James Medical Complex for patients who had cancer and COVID-19. His first sight was of body bags in the hall.
Cancer survivor and V8 Boys owner Clifford Tardieu did not like the condition in which he saw Ramlal, so he interceded and made requests for him to be moved from the COVID-19 facility to quarantine at home where he has been since.
Tardieu said that his friend was in severe pain, passing blood in his urine and stool and vomiting non-stop because the mass in his stomach was deteriorating rapidly.
Given all that Ramlal had gone through, Tardieu’s objective was to help other people who had cancer as he received help and support with his cancer himself. He felt it necessary to pay it forward.
He had made a promise to build a model 1972 Toyota Corolla KE30 for Ramlal similar to one he learned to drive in.
Speaking to the Sunday Guardian on Friday Tardieu said “When I picked Marcus up at the hospital, I called a friend in Miami, who was a fellow cancer survivor, he has a business here and quite a collection of older cars and he recently restored a Toyota Corolla KE30 car.
“He spoke to Marcus on the phone, he gave us the car, we picked up the car at his place on Tuesday with a wrecker and took it to Marcus’ house in Maloney, where he saw it from his balcony.
“We’re appealing to sponsors now that we have a perfectly restored car to allow us to redo the upholstery, get rims and tyres to personalise the car for Marcus so that he has something positive to look forward to.
“Even if he unfortunately dies, we’re going to donate the car to the Marcus Ramlal Foundation benefit at one of our shows.”
He said he had originally gotten a car for Ramlal two years ago, but because of the advanced state of decomposition of the car, he could not do any more bodywork on it because sponsors were not up to the task of supporting such a venture. COVID-19 further exacerbated the situation; he literally begged people for funds but to no avail.
Tardieu disclosed that Ramlal’s mother, Marilyn Ramlal wanted her son to be highlighted so people can remember him if he does not make it and to encourage people in a similar situation that there are people out there willing to lend support.
Ramlal’s mother said she was happy and thankful for the car Tardieu was working on for her son. She said everyone liked her son who is outspoken, funny and very loving.
Meanwhile, Ramlal did a second COVID-19 test which came back negative. He went to do an MRI after but was in too much pain to stay still in the machine and had to reschedule for tomorrow.
It is imperative he gets an MRI to determine how far advanced cancer has spread and to know whether it is feasible to remove the mass or have strong chemotherapy done to have a chance at survival.
Ramlal was too weak to speak to the Sunday Guardian.
People wishing to assist Marcus Ramlal can call: 382-4926, Whatsapp: 770-7791 or email: [email protected]