Web Portal on Human Rights in Georgia

Life is the most precious thing – a cancer patient about her experience

15.08.2017
 
 
According to the WHO estimates, nowadays there are 10,000,000 new cases of cancer diagnosed every year throughout the world and about 6,000,000 people die from the disease. Currently there are 46,000 people diagnosed with cancer in Georgia. 

The Association Right to Health conducts a research on cancer patients, with a focused on patient rights, rights of cancer patients and their family members at medical facilities; Georgian and foreign practice; access to medicines; rights of cancer patients at closed institutions – penitentiary and mental institutions; rights of minor cancer patients; palliative care; rights of cancer patients to euthanasia (overview of the practice of the European Court); patient rights and overview of judicial practice in Georgia”.

Besides conducting the research, the association also holds meetings with cancer patients, where they exchange their experiences.

The Association arranged a meeting where the audience met with a 33 year-old cancer patient M.A. She lives in Kaspi municipality; she is socially indigent person and gets a 50 GEL monthly allowance from the state. However, this money is not enough for her to fight against the serious disease.

M.A. – cancer patient

It was an ordinary morning when I woke up to find that by breast hurt. I stayed calm for two days, but as pain did not go away I realized that staying calm was not the right thing to do. My family members advised me to see a doctor. The pain disappeared 5 days later but when I performed breast self-examination I noticed some lumps the size of a walnut in there. I am from Kaspi Municipality and they cheered me up saying it was just a pain and it was less likely to have something bad. There is an oncologist coming to the municipality from Gori town every Friday. I came to her and she said that the drugs would not help and said I should go to Tbilisi, namely, to the Railway Hospital. This is how I came to Tbilisi. I found the clinic and they sent me to do tests after my very fists visit, which cost more than 300 GEL. It took me a month to collect a half of this money. Being socially indigent person, I received the rest funds from the state, but they did not consider that I would not be able to collect such a large sum. The tests results were bad and an urgent surgery was scheduled to cut out the lumps. The doctors wanted me to keep the breast, but the post-surgery tests were even worse, making it necessary to perform another surgery. They told me that I would have more chances to live if I did a mastectomy and I agreed, because all of us love life and want to live.

They prescribed chemotherapy after the surgery. I did 7 chemotherapies in the same clinic. There was a very good environment at the hospital. The doctors and the service staff treated me in a way that I would sometimes forget why I was there.

Life between chemotherapies

I would not have been able to start a chemotherapy course without the support of my relatives. Although the state allocates funding for some part of chemotherapy, still, a patient has to pay 140 GEL per chemo. Besides, the body needs rehabilitation after the therapy, for which my doctor prescribed medicines, and the post-chemo treatment cost me 100-110 GEL. When you are socially vulnerable, when you do not have any income, you face big problem. I did not know what to expect after the chemotherapy. I knew that it would be very hard for me, but I did not have a real picture in my head. Everybody walked on tiptoes at home, because I was very irritated and I did not want to hear anyone or anything. Besides, I also had an allergy to smell, I could not digest anything and I used to qualm even after drinking some water. I got up from bed on the 4th day after chemotherapy. I told everyone at home that I would go and submit all the documents necessary for financing the medicines for the next chemotherapy, which I did. However, I had to walk much from pharmacy to pharmacy in order to buy the medicines. They would say they did not have it and there was only one ampulla left in a pharmacy nearby. Then I would walk down the Aghmashenebeli and Tamar Mepe avenues asking for medicines. It was very difficult to find them a year ago, but they say that now it is easier. I was running to and fro to survive, because I do not have the right to die: I have a husband, children and family, for whom I should live.

Good nutrition is a must after chemotherapy: a patient should eat fish, meat, etc. However, I could not afford that and I was only thinking about raising enough money for the medicine.

Radiation Therapy

When I was undergoing the radiation therapy, there were times when I would have to wait in line for hours, but then I explained to them that I was coming from the district and I did not have time to wait for so long. I had to endure this inconvenience for two weeks. The radiation therapy cost about 7,000 GEL, but the state financed it completely. The only expenses I had for 25 days was to travel from my district to the city, and it was quite costly for me. I could not afford buying medicines which were necessary after the rehabilitation. I suffered burns during the radiation therapy and I applied various ointments. However, the ointments I bought in the pharmacy did not help and I started to use the ones made in the village. Other than the burns, I also had a stomachache. The radiation damaged the esophagus and it felt as if everything was burnt. Despite this, I did not lose the lust for life. I was cheering up other cancer patients at the hospital and telling them that there is nothing more precious than life, and they should fight regardless of so much pain and lost hair.

Rehabilitation

It is necessary to perform checkup after the treatment every three months – to do so called tumor markers, to ensure that the condition does not worsen. Everything was fine in the beginning, but now the level of tumor markers is elevated. I need to undergo computer investigations, but the abdominal investigation is not included in the financing. As for the breast investigation, it is financed only partially. Where should I get so much money? We hear talks on TV as if the state covers all the costs for vulnerable, but this is not the case. I think there should be a separate program for cancer patients, as it is for the Hepatitis C, etc...

When you find out that you are a cancer patient this is where you start to fight with yourself. You should be able to defeat the disease and live. Besides, it matters a lot who is besides you, who encourages and supports you. Not everybody can fight, but you should do it for your family.

Written by
Lana Giorgidze 

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