(TRINIDAD EXPRESS) — She calls it a miracle and he felt “divine intervention” was at work.
Young cancer-stricken mom Krissa Bissoon cried tears of joy when businessman Derek Chin, himself sick in Miami, offered her a ride home from the Bahamas.
The young mother from Arima, who touched local soil on Monday evening, said yesterday she may never find the right words to thank her sudden benefactor, who was able to stop in the Bahamas on the way from Miami and bring her home.
The young mother had appealed for help finding a way back after being stranded in the Bahamas, where she had gone as an expatriate with a construction firm this February.
The much-anticipated new beginning didn’t pan out and, thereafter, Bissoon was diagnosed with cervical cancer and lost her job.
Last week, she received a letter from her doctors warning of her condition, her need for immediate treatment and that any delays in reaching Trinidad where she could access treatment could lead to an untimely death.
On top of that, she was working with dwindling funds in an expensive foreign land and alone, as the T&T borders closed on March 22, one day after Bissoon had a biopsy that left her weak, bleeding and in hospital.
From there, hope also dwindled as commercial airlines remained closed and while she had been granted an exemption to re-enter T&T, Bissoon was in no position to afford a chartered flight that would bring her directly home.
She had turned to the T&T media for exposure and was on Monday “extremely touched by and grateful to the many persons who offered their assistance and resources”.
The 34-year-old quantity surveyor believes what happened last week was “a miracle”.
Her story began as a straightforward cry for help but took a wild turn last Thursday, when she was contacted by Chin’s lawyer, Hayden Gadsby, and given some unbelievable news
Chin had been in Miami, also seeking medical treatment, and had applied for an exemption to return to T&T, which must be processed and granted by Minister of National Security Stuart Young.
The businessman had been aware that if his application through his lawyer was approved, he would have to charter a private flight to T&T.
Chin had gotten word that his application had been processed, when he was also sent a digital copy of Bissoon’s May 7 story in the Express.
He immediately contacted Gadsby with his wish to help her, which would mean stopping in the Bahamas, once she was amenable.
Gadsby began to contact the relevant local authorities, namely Young, and said the Government was pleased and enthusiastic at the development.
Bissoon: Only gratitude
Protocols were laid out, as the returnees would have to fly directly home, engage the screening process as they entered T&T and allow themselves to be taken directly from the aircraft to a bus, which would transport them to their quarantine facility, in this case Cascadia Hotel in St Ann’s.
“I screamed with joy because I had been praying and praying for a miracle to happen,” Bissoon said of the moment she received Gadsby’s call.
“We often take things for granted, which this pandemic is teaching us not to do,” Bissoon said, adding that, “Life is a treasure and being thankful for small mercies granted to us by God and his angels is important.”
“Today I am focused on miracles…my journey to return home left me desperate and to have my miracle granted by these two persons, whom I now regard as earth angels, is beyond me.”
“Mr Chin’s lawyer, Mr Gadsby, who was instrumental in organising the fine details of pick-up from the Bahamas for myself, left me feeling that there is still so much hope in the world.”
Bissoon said she barely slept the night before being picked up “due to the excitement” and the anticipation saw “tears of joy streaming down my face”.
Apart from Chin and T&T citizens who had reached put to her, Bissoon also expressed gratitude to the Bahamian government as she looks forward to reuniting with her family, including her five-year-old daughter.
Bissoon also looks forward to a full recovery and disclosed she expects to start treatment soon, as she has had her case referred to the St James Medical Complex, which provides chemo and radiation therapy.
Minister of Health, Terrence Deyalsingh, said yesterday Bissoon and Chin had been quarantined at Cascadia due to their pre-existing conditions, as they were at greater risk among larger groups.
He noted the ministry disclosed some time ago that Cascadia was being used to quarantine nurses who came in from Cuba and the facility was considered appropriate for very small groups, such as the duo of Chin and Bissoon.
Strength in kindness, togetherness
Chin said he received news last Thursday morning that his exemption application had been processed and, shortly after, received a digital copy of Bissoon’s story from a relative.
He identified with her situation immediately, as he had not seen his family since February, had been uncertain as to when his application for exemption would be processed or granted and was also coping with a medical issue while “alone” in a foreign land.
The 66-year-old businessman said he also “understood the fear that I would end up dying alone”.
Chin, whose most visible business venture is MovieTowne and who has long worn a second hat as a philanthropist, immediately reached out to the T&T Government and articulated his desire to help Bissoon by offering her a ride home.
Chin had been prepared to charter a private jet to fly directly from Miami to T&T and asked that he be allowed to pass through the Bahamas and collect Bissoon.
He gave no concern as to added cost, since the exercise would have been an expensive one from the start and he would not have “comfortably” journeyed home, while leaving Bissoon behind.
The parties also had to be tested for Covid-19 prior to returning, which was done and was conducted again on their arrival in T&T.
Isolation and depression
“I started experiencing depression, which is something that doesn’t usually affect me. I am usually a happy-go-lucky guy,” Chin disclosed.
“I was getting so worked up and, at first, I thought I could control but I couldn’t and ended up seeing a doctor. It was being alone, facing a medical issue, being away from family and home. When I saw Krissa’s story and having done this type of work before, I immediately thought, ‘I can help this person’.”
He joked, however, that looking back on the timeline of events, he recalled his wife’s beliefs and felt, too, that some “divine intervention” was at work.
“We got in touch with Krissa on Thursday morning and she accepted the offer, so it was a lot of work from then to get organised,” Chin said.
The cogs and wheels to get the two home were kept going by Gadsby, who said the bureaucracy got thick at the weekend but the government of the Bahamas and the T&T Government were very accommodating.