Philippine Self-Help Foundation

This is a proposal for medical and food assistance for the Arnulfo's family, who have been hit by several medical problems. Arnulfo (36) and Fritz (31) have two children, Fritzie Anne (5) and Dwayne Aritz (2); Fritz has a goiter that has not been treated, and Dwayne was born with hydrocephalus. Arnulfo, who had been supporting the family from his earnings as an air-conditioner installer and technician, now has stomach cancer, needs medical treatment, and is too ill to work.

Until May, Arnulfo was earning an average of 1,500 pesos ($33) weekly. This was enough to buy food for the family, though a large part of Arnulfo’s salary had to be used to buy milk formula for Dwayne, who has difficulty eating solid food, and they did not have savings for medical costs.

Then Arnulfo started having pain in his stomach, severe enough that he could barely stand. He lost weight rapidly and whenever he ate, he would vomit and writhe in pain. Then he defecated blood, and this prompted the couple to seek medical help. The doctor ordered an endoscopy and asked them for 15,000 pesos, which the couple could not afford. They instead went to a quack doctor, Arnulfo’s condition worsened, and since June he has not been able to work regularly.

Arnulfo and his family are now living with his mother and his siblings, who also supply their food. Judith, Arnulfo’s sister, is working as a waitress in my sister’s carenderia (eatery) and she told my sister about her brother’s condition; this is how PSHF learned about the Bolatete family and their needs. I asked for a project advance for Arnulfo to have an endoscopy and biopsy, along with medication to control his pain. The doctor helped by giving us a 50% discount, but the results were devastating; the problem is stomach cancer, and a large mass has filled most of his stomach, leaving only a small passage for food. The doctor recommended surgery to see whether his cancer has spread to other organs and to determine the stage of the cancer. Arnulfo, however, decided against the surgery and wants to try alternative medical treatment, and his health now may not be good enough for him to survive surgery and chemotherapy.

The PSHF grant is to assist the Bolatete family with medication, laboratory fees and four months of food assistance. Medical and related costs for Arnulfo include 6,000 pesos for the endoscopy, 72,000 pesos for alternative medication for six months, and 5,000 pesos for trips to Cebu for checkups. The grant also includes 30,000 pesos for treatment for Fritz for her goiter, and 12,000 pesos for food. Arnulfo will apply for disability benefits with Social Welfare, which should provide money for food and other needs after the application is processed.

We have heard of good results from alternative medications, and we are hopeful that with those non-aggressive procedures, Arnulfo will feel less pain and, if all goes well, will be free of cancer. It was good to see Fritz and Arnulfo smile and to see the relief in their eyes when I told them PSHF will help them in this difficult period of their life.

Ireen Ingles

PSHF Bohol

July 2015