Each day Dave, our current medical volunteer, comes back from one of our clinics he usually has an interesting anecdote to tell a group of enthused listeners back at the MaD House. However, today we had a particularly good story that we all felt was worthy of a diary entry!
Two or three weeks ago our medics had been set up at a village clinic and had been visited by a woman who came to see us about a growth on her neck. Dave examined the growth and, after asking a few questions, determined that it was most definitely cancerous and was growing at an alarming rate. He was very straight with the woman, telling her that she had to go to the hospital to get this removed otherwise it would kill her. The woman seemed alarmed at Dave’s diagnosis: she seemed to believe that she was just going to get a couple of pills that would make it go away, not that a pesky lump on her neck could become so serious that it would be life threatening! Nevertheless, she appeared to take his warning to heart and left, Dave and Vinh thought, to promptly go to hospital and get the cancer taken care of.
When they returned to the same village a few weeks later, they were therefore somewhat surprised that the same woman was there and had still not gone to the hospital to get her growth removed. Dave asked her whether she knew how serious her condition was, she said that she did. He asked her if she planned on going to the hospital in order to get it taken care of. She said that she didn’t know. Hospitals in Cambodia can be very expensive for the poor: not only do you have to pay just to be seen by a doctor, but you also have to pay for your all your treatment and, if you have to stay there, for your bed and your food. The accumulative cost of treatment, especially for an operation (no matter how simple), is therefore often too expensive for the rural poor to afford. Afraid that the woman would not go hospital to get taken care of and that her cancer would spread and become life threatening, Dave offered to remove the growth at the clinic. Before he came to volunteer with us, Dave had taken a training course in suturing back in Australia, thinking that he may need to sew up a wound or two whilst out here. I don’t think he realised that he would be needing his new skills so soon, or that they would be for such an important procedure!!
The woman readily accepted to having her growth removed at the clinic. So without further ado, Dave and Vinh applied some local anaesthetic, took out the scalpel and got to work! They worked together to cut out the growth and then Dave got out his suturing kit and sewed the wound back up. They cleaned it up, applied some iodine and sent a very grateful lady on her way, promising to see her again in a week and then on a regular basis in order to take out her stitches and make sure the growth didn’t return.
For those who aren’t squeamish, check out the photos below to see how the operation went.
Top job chaps!!