I came to know Ludelyn (35), when I interviewed her for a loan in December 2019. Two years later, during my interview with her for a second loan, I noticed a large swelling on her cheeks which she seemed to be trying to hide with her hair. She told me that she had had a biopsy two years before and that she had been told it was not cancerous. She was then scheduled for surgery by a medical mission team in early 2019 but then she became pregnant with her sixth child. She had a second chance in 2021 but the medical mission ended up being cancelled. Ludelyn felt devastated as her chances of receiving surgery had become bleak. However, she did not lose hope and prayed constantly that help would come as the tumor had become progressively bigger.
Ludelyn is a mother of six children aged three to twelve years old, and they all attend school. Ludelyn’s husband Godie (40), works as a sugarcane truck driver during the harvesting season and tends to his banana plantation with Ludelyn during the other months and at weekends. Godie is paid 2,500 pesos ($45) a week as a driver which is just enough to meet his family’s basic needs.
Ludelyn and Godie’s farm measures one hectare; Godie inherited it from his parents. The farm work mostly comprises the removal of weeds and dead leaves and then the transplanting of the young bananas to a vacant spot, as more than three banana trees in a small space affects growth and delays fruit development. Aside from the bananas, the couple also plant taro and sweet corn in the boundary areas, the proceeds of which are kept for home consumption. The home of the Batomalaque family is a two-roomed roughly made concrete house. They have electricity and a small colour television. The small living room has wooden chairs which Godie himself made. Water is obtained from a nearby deep well and it is shared with the neighbors.
In early November, I sent a message to Ludelyn inquiring how she was doing as she had come to mind when I was told that a relative of mine had a facial tumor like Ludelyn’s that had become cancerous. This is when I discovered that her surgery had been cancelled. I was alarmed to see a photo she sent me showing a very large swelling on the right side of her neck. I asked Ludelyn to come to Dumaguete on the 7th of November so that I could accompany her for a check-up with a specialist. An ultrasound of her neck and a physical check-up was performed to determine whether the tumor could be removed easily without causing facial paralysis as the tumor was now covering the facial nerves. Thankfully, the doctor reassured Ludelyn that she would have no more than a big scar and a not-so-noticeable facial deformity after the surgery. Ludelyn was relieved to know that the tumor could be removed and that it would not develop into cancer.
The surgery will be performed in a government hospital and will cost 65,000 pesos. We in the PSHF would like to provide Ludelyn with a grant of 50,000 pesos and the balance will be raised from government aid, the social welfare fund and the governor’s medical assistance fund. Ludelyn is scheduled for admission on the 18th of November, and her surgery will be undertaken three days later. When I first told Ludelyn that we would help fund her surgery, she was overcome with emotion and tears streamed down her face. They were tears of joy.
“ God has answered my prayers. I am forever grateful to PSHF for making it possible for my tumor to finally be removed.” We are happy to assist Ludelyn and look forward to seeing her no longer covering her face in embarrassment.
Ireen O. Ingles
PSHF Negros Oriental