She lived with cancer for 7 years. It was a real struggle some of the time, when the disease was fully present in her body and her treatment options were few. That’s because she didn’t live here in the United States. She lived in Kathmandu. That’s in Nepal.
Kathmandu is approximately 7, 907 miles away from the United States. It’s a million miles away from cutting edge cancer care. The reason I know that is because this cancer warrior’s sister is a friend of mine and for the past 7 years I’ve lived this cancer treatment nightmare with my friend. She would give me updates on her sister’s condition and come with a list of terms her doctor would use but never explain. For the most part, I could give her a pretty description of what this doctor was saying and then she’d make the call to Kathmandu and so it went.
More troubling than serving as a cancer dictionary and encyclopedia for this family, was the fact that I learned there really isn’t any health insurance in Nepal. The same goes for New Delhi in India, where this woman would travel to see a cancer specialist when they could afford it. Health care equals how many dollars you can put down on the table, or under it.
They even took a three day train ride to get a second opinion from a doctor in a remote part of Nepal. Once the train stopped, this patient and her husband, found a taxi to drive them to the hospital. That took another hour! With cash in hand, they met the specialist who said she was getting the proper care. A quick exam and then turn around, taxi back to the train station for the three days ride home.
Seven years, this family did what they needed to do to give their loved one a fighting chance. She enjoyed remissions along the way. Those were the good weeks. Most of the years were spent pushing back the cancer with treatments cancer centers in the U.S. haven’t used in a very long time. They weren’t the wrong treatments, just not the latest treatments that have shown so much more success in killing cancer.
My friend tried to get her sister to come here for treatment, but home is home. She was afraid to leave and not be able to go home again.
She’s at peace now. She was 52 years old.
We all know how hard it is to live in cancer world. It’s especially hard in a far away land.