Cervical Cancer Patient Update: Teresa Quispe Mallqui

In January of 2012, Teresa Quispe Mallqui approached a MEDLIFE Mobile Clinic in her community of Defensores de la Familia after hearing about the importance of getting a routine Pap smear. Mother of three and grandmother at only 38 years old, Teresa didn’t give much thought to the possible outcomes of the exam. Similarly, when the results came in and there were some irregularities that required immediate follow-up, she found it difficult to process the gravity of the situation.

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Teresa is a single mother who moved to Lima from the Andean region of Huancayo with her children in order to find work. Living in a one-room house with six people including her grandchild and crippled mother, she worked with a municipality cleaning crew and didn’t have time to see a doctor. MEDLIFE Peru Director Carlos Benavides sat down with Teresa and explained the importance of getting treatment, not just for her, but for her family as well. Consequently, she agreed to see the gynecologist at Maria Auxiliadora Hospital. After a number of tests it was confirmed she had stage 3 carcinoma in situ, a dangerous early form of cancer that requires the removal of all damaged lesions.

In the difficult months that followed the initial Pap smear, Teresa had to take a lot of time off of work to attend her numerous doctor visits — often waiting in line for five to six hours before actually seeing a physician. Once the municipality found out about her illness they promptly fired her, not wanting to have to deal with the responsibility of having a sick employee.

On the first of June, Teresa arrived at the hospital ready for her operation — an abdominal hysterectomy — of which MEDLIFE agreed to cover the entire cost. Normally, the bulk of the operation would have been paid by the Peruvian healthcare system, SIS, but unfortunately Teresa had not qualified for it. Earlier this year Teresa had taken out a loan of 1,500 soles (roughly 570 dollars) to help her daughter open a small market next to their house. This loan disqualified her from receiving subsidized healthcare because it was seen as though she had extra cash lying around, even though the small market was barely making enough to feed her family.

The operation was completed without complications that same day. Two days later Teresa, still not fully recovered, was removed from her bed in order to make room for another patient. She was sent home with our follow-up care nurse, Meri, where she was given strict instructions to rest and stay in bed.

In the days that followed Teresa complained of sharp abdominal pain, for which MEDLIFE staff accompanied her to the hospital for further checkups. Although her pain proved to be nothing serious, the biggest problems occurred while transporting Teresa to and from the hospital. Teresa’s community is on the top of a hill and is inaccessible to buses or taxis. This means that Teresa has to walk up and down steep staircases to get anywhere, especially difficult in her fragile condition. To avoid this, MEDLIFE Dr. Jose Luis Rodriguez continued to make house visits checking up on Teresa to ensure that she could recover comfortably without extra strain.

As of now Teresa is steadily recovering and awaiting her next checkup later this month.


Hear it From MEDLIFErs

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Reya Seby
Western University

This trip motivated me more to pursue a career in the healthcare field so that I can use my resources to help those who need it the most, similar to MEDLIFE’s mission.

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Victoria DiCanio
University of Connecticut

It was most enjoyable to finish the hard work and see how big a difference a group of individuals can make. It was such an amazing experience.

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Anita Woo
University of Toronto

I enjoyed the mobile clinics the most, especially the dental and triage portions. I would definitely recommend a MEDLIFE trip, it was a great experience.

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David Saff
Maclay High School

The most enjoyable part of my trip was hanging out with the amazing group of kids I was with. I would highly recommend a MEDLIFE volunteer trip to others.

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Sydney Sansone
Nova Southeastern University

This trip made everything that I was learning in my public health courses come to life and immersed me in a new culture while also learning about medicine.

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Abygail Youmans
College of Charleston

Being involved with MEDLIFE is not like joining another club - its bigger than that. It is about joining a movement that seeks to help change people’s quality of life for forever.

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Emi Hofmann
University of Central Florida

Not only was I able to participate in a week long Mobile Clinic, shadowing doctors of all types of specialties including pharmacy, dentistry, gynecology, and more, but I was also able to learn about the culture and visit incredible places.

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Julian Takagi-Stewart
University of Toronto

One thing that I really loved about this trip was that MEDLIFE made sure that the volunteers got an understanding of the complexity of issues that lead to underprivileged people in communities outside of the main city

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Hannah Van Hofwegen
University of Ottawa

Whether it was basketball with the local kids, assisting the doctors, talking with families, building washrooms, holding babies, or spending time with the people who were on the SLT with me, this was an amazing opportunity that I would do over and over again.

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Isabelle Holt
Cornell University

I loved learning about the patients MEDLIFE has followed and how they offer real help to people with chronic/urgent conditions. It is amazing how the organization formed real connections with the communities.

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Valerie Lindeborg

Our family had the privilege of participating in multiple trips with Nick [founder] and his amazing staff. Their expertise made the trips unforgettable while instilling in my boys the fundamentals of good character: selflessness, compassion, and empathy.

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Harry Vildibill
University of Georgia

As an aspiring physician, MEDLIFE motivated me to further continue my goal of becoming a doctor. In fact, I enjoyed the Tanzania Service Learning Trip so much that I decided to go on another trip to Cusco, Peru.