“For as long as I can remember in my life I have had this strange and painful growth on my back and no one seems to know what it is,” says Johanna Maluleke, a 46-year-old mother of five children from Stinkwater in Tshwane.
“This thing is now causing me unbearable pain, especially when I do chores,” says Maluleke, who adds that she would rather face surgery to remove the naartjie-size lump on her upper back than live with the pain. “I cannot even sleep….and I struggle to cook for my children.”
Maluleke says it took five years for her to be properly referred from her local Dilopye Clinic to Ga-Rankuwa’s Dr. George Mukhari Hospital. During that time, she claims clinic staff simply prescribed her pain medication. Unemployed and with a husband who works piece jobs, Maluleke says she could not afford to see a private specialist.
She was eventually referred to Jubilee Hospital in Hamanskraal, which eventually sent her to Dr. George Mukhari Hospital for a second opinion on the growth in April.
Although doctors at the hospital say that growth cannot be removed without risking serious damage to blood vessels, Maluleke says she is happy with the regular pain management she receives from the hospital.
“The doctors at George Mukhari are merciful because they check me thoroughly and ask me how I am feeling,” she tells OurHealth. “I am happy to be treated from that hospital.”
“I can now be able to cook for my children and clean the house like other women however I cannot work the whole day because that elicits the pains from mu back,” says Maluleke, who plans to seek doctors’ guidance about whether she may qualify for a disability grant.