Day 2: Personal Stories (Cryotherapy)

Day 2: Personal Stories (Cryotherapy)

The names and other identifying information about these patients have been altered to protect their privacy.

At the end of the day, we were able to interview several patients who had gone through cryotherapy treatment. Marcela commented that the treatment hurt a little bit, but felt fine afterwards. Marcela’s daughter Gloria is pictured in the featured image. Marcela previously had an abnormal Pap smear test, but never had any follow-up treatment. She lived in the rural, green, mountainous countryside of Guatemala. She had to take a bumpy 90-minute bus-ride on a dirt road to finally arrive at the CCC clinic. She was referred by her local doctor, and was extremely grateful that she would see the end of her pain.

CCC not only does VIA and cryotherapy, but also identifies and refers cancer patients. A perfect example is Zoila, a 31-year old mother of two from Cachá, Guatemala. Her son Dennis is 8, and her daughter María is 3. She has a husband named Manuel, who works as a truck mechanic. Zoila works at home taking care of her kids, as well as sewing and knitting.

A year ago, she had a gynecological exam at the Regional Hospital of Cobán because she experienced intermenstrual bleeding. They have her a Pap smear exam, told her she had an infection, and gave her antibiotics. The medicine reduced the pain a little, but did not cure her. She returned to the clinic about every 2 months for more antibiotics. Before today, she had never undergone the Vinegar Test. Most unfortunately, CCC discovered that Zoila had an invasive local cancer of the cervix. But there is a good ending to this heartbreaking story: our partners, Asociación Compañero Para Cirugía, has already arranged for her biopsy, which will likely lead to a life-saving radical hysterectomy.

This is NOT the normal pattern of referrals. About 90% of the time, the women will not get from Cobán to Guatemala City for the radical hysterectomy. They either can’t afford it, or don’t have the support to navigate the system. Fortunately for Zoila, she will get the proper attention she needs.

Had Zoila had a “See and Treat” procedure, this invasive cancer would have been totally avoided.