Written By: Mikee Pasaporte
“We can’t help everyone. But everyone can help someone.”-Ronald Reagan
We have a 57-year old patient who is diagnosed with Stage 4 breast cancer. She lives alone and has been branded to be “difficult to live with”. She keeps things in place and if you move anything out of order, she gets overly agitated.
She used to beg in front of a major mall in Dasmariñas City, where the TRF team found her in 2013, since she couldn’t find a job because of her condition. When her cancer worsened, she couldn’t stay on the streets for too long. She was then home bound. Being non-ambulatory and relying on the kindness of others, she verbalizes being helpless. Helpless but not hopeless. She shows her determination to be independent as much as she can.
Most of her siblings have given up on her. Most of her neighbors are turned off by her. The little world she has created around her is limited to a handful of people, which our team has the privilege to be a part of.
Our nurses and volunteers give her baths and assists her with activities of daily living. She enjoys painting as art therapy. We want to do so much, but the most that we can do is visit once a week, perhaps twice at the very most. That’s when it came to the realization that we had to “expand” our team. Expand, in the sense that we had to tap different agencies to assist this patient.
She can be alone, but she doesn’t need to be lonely.
The medical team, with our social worker, went the extra mile to call out and empower the community. They gave basic lectures on caring, first aid and the like for free. In exchange, the barangay visits her frequently to take out her trash and even brings cooked meals for her. The City Social Welfare and Development office of Dasmariñas provide her with diapers. The City health office now gives free wound cleaning materials while the local barangay health office sends over community nurses to clean her wounds on days when our team isn’t there to assist her.
I believe that our patient’s world has now grown. The next step is to make her realize that though she was turned down by those she expected to help, more than a handful of people outside her circle are willing to lend their hands to care.