Bernadette Kapini is a recent breast cancer survivor feeling the burden of this.
She was forced to stop her chemotherapy only three months into it, after being told the medicine stock at the Port Moresby General Hospital ran out.
Kapini had undergone a mastectomy at the Pacific International Hospital in June 2017, where one of her breasts was surgically removed.
She began her chemotherapy treatment with the Port Moresby General Hospital’s Obstetrics and Gynaecology division in July.
Doctors use chemotherapy after surgery when there is a risk that cancer cells could have spread to another part of the body. This is with the aim to reduce the risk of the cancer coming back in future.
Kapini says September was the last time she got her medication.
“Even the doctor I went to see advised that they are not aware when the stock is coming in. So for now, we are left to suffer in silence,” she said.
And since October to date, she has only been on pain killers (Voltaren and Panadol) to deal with the unbearable pain along her chest, starting from where she had the surgery.
This is an even costly exercise for her and the family. She says a Voltaren packet costs K10 and has 8 tablets. She takes 3 tablets a day so one packet lasts only 2 days. For the Panadol, a packet with 50 tablets costs K28.
“This medication eases the pain for only one hour. I don’t know what’s causing this pain, but I know for sure that the little money I came with to Port Moresby is running out,” she said.
She has been sewing meri blouses to sell to afford her medication while living with her younger sister in Port Moresby.
“My sister paid K19,000 for this surgery. And it’s another burden that I have to be with her longer,” she said.
Kapini is a mother of 4 and grandmother to 9, from East Sepik, Chambri Lakes. But she is a long-time resident of Madang.
She came to Port Moresby in April 2017 after being diagnosed with breast cancer at the Modilon General Hospital.
She is appealing to the government to place priority on health for the sake of the people.
“Doctors and nurses are there but how can they help us. Many of us are suffering, and many more are dying,” she said.
“I want to return to my family.”
(Bernadette Kapini feels the pinch)