Alemnesh is a 40 year old woman who is widowed with two children, a son and a daughter. She lives in a government subsidized house (kebele housing) in Addis Ababa. Alemnesh was diagnosed with cervical cancer three years ago and is HIV+. Her condition has deteriorated and she is now bedridden.
A year ago, a community volunteer encouraged her to get in contact with Hospice Ethiopia and a home visit was arranged. When the hospice staff first visited Alemnesh, she had a smelly discharge due to her cancer. She also had nausea and vomiting, severe headaches, loss of weight and severe social problems. Furthermore, her mother and the rest of her family had rejected her due to her disease and the fact that she was not providing any income for her own children. This family situation was causing Alemnesh much distress.
The hospice staff dealt with her greatest concern first by negotiating a meeting with her mother. The hospice staff helped Alemnesh’s mother to understand her condition and to accept her daughter. This reconciliation with her mother alleviated Alemnesh’s emotional pain and created much joy. The hospice staff helped further improve her social situation by providing her with some money from their comfort fund so she was able to pay for her house rent and food.
Alemnesh’s physical symptoms were also treated by the hospice staff. The smell from her discharge was very strong and had been difficult for Alemnesh to manage. The staff showed her how to use antibiotic powder mixed with water to wash, to help reduce the smell. Alemnesh no longer smells; this has made a huge difference to her quality of life. She still requires pads to help with the heavy discharge.
Alemnesh’s pain was also treated and controlled with morphine and she was given steroids to help alleviate her nausea and vomiting. The hospice staff visit regularly to provide her with social support, soap and pads for the discharge. Alemnesh now has a good relationship with her family and feels much better. She says: ‘When the hospice staff come I just so look forward to their visit. May God bless them in all that they do’.