During the tours with the Rolling Clinic of Cebu, I had the chance to talk to a lot of patients and to find out more about them and their lives. And I got to know why they need and attend the consultation hours of Doctors for Developing Countries – German Doctors.
As a representation for many others, I would like to tell the story of Suzana, a goitre patient.
Suzana sticks out – she has a big swelling directly underneath her face – the result of a long untreated thyroid dysfunction.
But I do not only notice her because of her appearance. We start talking rather out of coincidence. She tries to help interpreting while I’m talking to an old man. She is laughing a lot and has a notably positive charisma.
Suzana is 50 years old, she has two children and is divorced. „My husband left me and married another woman when my neck got bigger and bigger due to goitre“, she tells me sadly. „But it also has a good side“, she adds. Her husband used to come home drunk, beat his wife and the children. „Everything made him crazy!“, Suzana says. „I talked to him when he was sober, but without results.“ She didn’t know any other way to help herself than to go to church every Sunday and to pray „that everything would be fine“.
A couple of years ago, Suzana used to have a shop where she was selling rice. After that, she was a vendor for cosmetics. She had to pay in advance for the orders. When some customers did not collect the products they had ordered and thus didn’t pay anymore, the situation got dicey. Moreover, her husband used to spend the money, which she earned with her jobs for the family, on alcohol. She couldn’t pay anymore and had to stop her second business, too. Until now, she hasn’t found work again. Little by little, she sold the few things she owned. Recently, she sold her little gas cooker to buy food for herself and her children.
What is life like for her, I’m asking. „Really very difficult and bad. But I always try to laugh and be strong!“ I really believe what she’s saying. Throughout the talk, I never hear a word of self-pity from her. She is laughing, she tries to see something positive in everything.
„You know“, she continues. „I always go to church and pray to God. I trust in him. That gives me the strength to deal with all the problems and challenges.“
She would like to open a little shop again and make her own money. But she doesn’t have enough money to get started.
At the moment, she tries to get an operation for the goitre. After that, she will see what happens. „Everything is in God’s hands. I’m doing what I can.“
Translation: Ulrike Peter