Rossana is a 68-year-old married woman who is currently in her second marriage. Her first husband died in 1996 and she remarried in 1997. She had five children from her first marriage and has two additional children with her current husband. Two of her children from her first husband have died and one of her remaining children is currently pregnant. She stays in a three-bedroom house with 7 people. Her husband is a truck driver and she rents out a plot of land for farming to help support the family, otherwise, she calls herself a housewife and is happily married. Financially, things have become increasingly difficult since the outbreak of COVID-19 and the family is struggling to make ends meet.
Rossana started noticing a small swelling on her neck about 3 years ago and originally traveled to South Africa for medication. There, she had an ultrasound and was given medication but it did not help. She came back to Malawi and was referred to Kamuzu Central Hospital (KCH), the largest public hospital in Lilongwe. From KCH she was referred to another mission hospital for laboratory tests since the local lab had run out of supplies. After the lab tests, she was told that the swelling was a goiter and that she would need surgery.
A goiter is an abnormal enlargement of the thyroid gland, a butterfly-shaped gland located at the base of the neck. Although goiters are usually painless, a large goiter can cause a cough and irritation, and may also cause difficulty in swallowing and breathing. She initially delayed having the surgery because her cousin told her she might die and she was afraid. However, Rossana has had ongoing issues with choking that made it difficult to eat. She normally would enjoy eating rice and chicken but no longer enjoys her food because of the extent of the choking. She also is not enjoying her Islamic religious traditions like singing because of the choking sensation in her throat.
Rossana is afraid that if she is not operated on, she may choke and die. She has sought care at Partners in Hope (PIH) for the removal of her thyroid so that the quality of her life will improve. She also feels insecure about the appearance of the goiter on her neck. After consulting with the PIH surgeon, a date was set for the removal of the thyroid to help improve Rossana’s quality of life. She is now seeking $1,015 so that she can have the surgery.
Rossana says, “I want to be able to sing and enjoy my food again.”