Meet The Patient: Gerardina Vilchez - MEDLIFE

Meet The Patient: Gerardina Vilchez

gerardina1Geradina lives in a small rented room, with just enough space for a bed, 2 hobs and a TV. There’s no windows and so despite it being mid day, we sit in dim lighting. Geradina hasn’t always lived in Lima, the illness brought her here, as it is where she can get the best treatment and seek support from MEDLIFE. It isn’t her home, and she actually speaks little of the Spanish that is spoken in Lima. She is in fact from Ocobamba, one of the eight districts of the province Chincheros in Peru. There, they speak Quechua, a language spoken primarily in the Andes, it is the most widely spoken language family of the indigenous peoples of the Americas.

Recognising the need to seek medical help for a growth in her neck, she made the journey to Lima, where her sister lives. Doing this meant she was leaving behind her husband and 6 children, a decision that doesn’t come easily to any wife or mother. However, with increasing pain and discomfort she knew it was her only option.

The disease she has is called Goiter, an abnormal enlargement of a thyroid gland. A large goiter causes a cough and makes it difficult to swallow or breathe. When Geradina talks it causes a lot of water to form in her throat and the gland to inflate. Geradina’s sister introduced her to MEDLIFE in 2013, and since then MEDLIFE have supported Geradina in finding the necessary medical attention.

Geradina had to have an operation on her neck to remove the thyroid tissue. Though the operation went well its left Geradina with a scar that she’s so ashamed and conscious of, one that she always tries to hide from view. Though her condition is improving she continues to be in discomfort with other conditions that have been linked to Goiter. So for now, MEDLIFE will remain in regular contact with her, following up with the progress of her recovery. 

Living in Lima, away from her family means Geradina isn’t able to communicate with her ​​husband, relaying this brings her to tears during our conversation. She tries to stay positive and says that she is happy that he is there to be with their children. It’s been extremely difficult for Geradina being really far away from her family and not being able to communicate with them, particularly with the worries her illness brings. However, our conversation ends on a high, she tells us she feels so grateful for MEDLIFE as they have helped her a lot and have been a great support through her recovery, which is so great to hear.  We truly hope that soon Geradina will be able to get well enough to make the journey back to her home and her family, and until then, MEDLIFE will continue to stand by her side.