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Hope fades for woman

Published: 
Wednesday, July 18, 2018
160-pound tumour out of control
Two years later, Gloria Nicole with a tumour that now weighs 160 pounds. PICTURE ABRAHAM DIAZ

Grimacing in pain, Gloria Nicome broke down in tears yesterday as she related her daily ordeal of toting a 160-pound tumour growing on her back, buttocks, hips and legs for several years.

The tumour, which started growing on her buttocks in 2011, has made 52-year-old Nicome, who tips the scale at 310 pounds, a prisoner inside her Malabar apartment.

Nicome yesterday recalled being a free-spirited and independent person earning her own dollar as a production supervisor at a meat shop. But all that changed in 2011 when she took a tumble and landed on her buttocks.

Shortly after, she noticed a lump on her rear but paid no attention to it.

When the lump began to grow at a fast pace, she visited the Port of Spain General Hospital where she was diagnosed with plexiform neurofibroma. Doctors told her surgery was the only option to remove the growth, which was not life-threatening.

“During the operation, I started to bleed profusely. The doctors could not continue. The tumour was butchered like a ham leg, which never healed.

“In the last seven years, the tumour has grown from my waist to my knees. It now weighs 160 pounds. It’s heavier than I am. I have become a prisoner in my own home. I can’t go anywhere.

If it wasn’t for God I would have given up. He has been my pillar of strength.”

From 2016 to now the tumour, which is black in colour, has increased by 30 pounds, restricting Nicome’s movements.

Nicome’s case was previously highlighted by Guardian Media in November 2016. Since then the tumour grew by 20 pounds and her life has not improved. With each passing day, Nicome said she has unbearable pain from her neck, back, shoulders and waist.

“Many days I am unable to get off my bed even to change my bedsheet or to tidy myself. The tumour is such a burden.”

While a plastic surgeon has reached out to Nicome, she said the public health system has been making her life a living hell, as she is unable to get dressings for the tumour, which oozes daily.

Last year, Nicome said nurses at the Arima District Health Facility began visiting her home twice weekly to attend to change the dressing.

“I used to pay a taxi $300 to take me to the clinic to get the tumour dressed but the nurses started coming to my home. So it was easing me up financially and otherwise. It was a big help out.”

In January, however, Nicome said the nurses stopped coming.

“They said they were short on nurses and began delivering the dressing at my home instead.”

The dressing consisted of several packets of gauze, rolls of cotton, antiseptic and surgical tape that lasted for a week.

But recently, Nicome said the nurses have been cutting back on supplies, as she only receives seven small packs of gauze to last 12 days, which is insufficient.

“Yesterday, I ran out of dressing.

I had to cut up an old dress to bandage the tumour. Using old clothes is not sterile. It can infect the tumour. Every day I have to dress it twice because it constantly leaking liquids. I can’t understand how a simple thing like dressings the health facility is short on. Why people have to suffer so? All this is frustrating me,” a tearful Nicome said.

Of the $1,150 public assistance and $410 food card she collects monthly, Nicome pays a rent of $1,000.

“I can barely survive with the money I am getting. I am not accustomed with this kind of living,” she said.

“I was an independent person who never depended on anyone for anything. In the blink of an eye my life change. Every day I does ask God when will I get over this ordeal. This is too much. This can happen to anyone…anyone.

Now I have to depend on friends to see after my needs which is paining me inside out knowing what my life has become.”

Last night, Health Minister Terrence Deyalsingh advised the T&T Guardian to call North Central Regional Health Authority CEO Davlin Thomas concerning Nicome’s issue. However, calls to Thomas’ cellphone went straight to voicemail.

Plexiform neurofibroma is a benign tumour of peripheral nerves arising from a proliferation of all neural elements, pathognomonic of neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1). It involves single or multiple nerve fascicles that arise from major nerve branches.

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