Elena is 55 years old and has cancer in her right ovary. She was operated at Hospital de la Sociedad de Lucha Contra el Cáncer (Solca) in Guayaquil, just before the sanitation emergency was declared due to COVID-19. Elena’s cancer was spreading to her other organs, including her liver. On February 28, her oncologist told her that she had to have chemotherapy done immediately and ordered preliminary exams to determine the number of sessions Elena needed.
Two weeks later, on March 18, Solca announced that due to the “uncontrollable increase of coronavirus cases” all medical attention was suspended and only emergencies would be attended to—all other treatments, including Elena’s, were put on hold. Since that moment, Laura told GK, a partner in the cross-border journalistic collaboration Centinela, that she has seen how her mother’s life fades away day-by-day while in waiting.
The reasoning behind the suspension of services was complex. Solca’s official announcement said that it was being done for the safety of their patients: “the natural existence of illness creates an immunocompromised system (weakened immune system) and to undergo chemo or radioactive treatment, further weakens the body’s natural defense system against COVID-19, which makes them more likely to get infected and/or have severe complications from the virus.”
It’s a paradox: not receiving treatments to avoid dying of COVID-19 can mean dying of cancer—and vice versa.
To read the full version of this article in Spanish, visit Clip's website.
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