Making a Difference

Making a Difference

Patient: Ms Savita Zende

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Savita Zende was diagnosed with stage IV breast cancer in November 2015. She was 44 years old and belonged to a financially underprivileged family. The only support she had was from her two siblings—a brother and a sister. She was thin, weak and physically handicapped, primarily due to her disease (which had caused a skeletal deformity). She was unable to stand or do anything for herself―all she could do was lie in a corner of the tiny one room plus kitchen that was the home she shared with her siblings.

When we first came into her home, she was overcome with embarrassment and tried to cover her body to hide the large tumour mass on her chest. Our PALCARE team members sat down with her and gently explained to her what we do. And as we spoke, her confidence grew, while her brother’s and sister’s eyes filled with hope.

After taking down her history and conducting the examination we realised that for the past two years Savita had been living with disability and terrible physical and mental pain—but with no professional help to guide her through her illness. The tumour had also had a history of maggots. We helped her with medication, and the nurses and psychologist counselled her. However, Savita’s family members were afraid to even touch her wound, and she was clearly not getting the care she needed at home. We therefore referred her to a hospice and helped her through the admission procedure. Her last words to us before she shifted out were, “Thank you for coming and helping me, nobody has ever looked into my condition so carefully before.” It is words like these that make me feel I am making a difference every day.

Moreover, the situation that we found Savita in when PALCARE first entered her home made me realise how patients like her, who suffer acute physical and psychological pain, are in dire need of care such as ours that encompasses all aspects of their condition and gives them the confidence to lead as normal a life as possible, for as long as possible.

Dr. Rajeshwari Shukla
Doctor

*Patients’ names, on this and following pages, have been changed to protect their identity.