“My ears hurt and I have a hard time turning my head due to this huge lump on my face. I face difficulties while washing my face, bathing, eating, drinking and even doing daily chores. I don’t know how or when this happened, but I haven’t been able to live a day without crying in pain.” - Sunita Devi
Sunita Devi spends her days in loneliness and despair, unable to step out of the house without being given dirty looks from her neighbours and passersby. Facing alienation and subjected to cruel remarks about her shocking appearance, she has been silently enduring unimaginable suffering.
The weight of the massive tumour has hindered Sunita’s daily lifeLife as she knew it changed for the 56-year-old at the blink of an eye, when a small pimple on the side of her face ballooned into a football-sized tumour. According to doctors, Sunita is suffering from a giant neurofibroma, a type of nerve tumour that forms soft bumps on or under the skin. While usually non-cancerous, there are rare chances of it becoming cancerous.
“I had been visiting another city, and fell ill. Later, when I came back home, I felt a pimple-like bulge on the left cheek. I thought it would go away in time, but I was wrong. Instead, it started to get bigger and bigger, and now it’s so huge! Just when I think it can’t grow anymore than it has, I see a visible difference in its size.” - Sunita Devi
‘She hasn’t even seen her grandchildren as her appearance may scare them away’
“We look at other mothers and they are well. They visit their daughter’s house and meet their grandchildren. But my mother can’t do that. She says that she will scare the children away with her disfigured face. I feel terrible and extremely upset, looking at her. She is clearly in a lot of pain.” - Rukmani, daughter
With a household income of just INR 2,000, they cannot afford her expensive treatmentSunita needs to undergo multiple surgical procedures and treatment for a period of 6 months. Considering her age and fragile condition, she may also require extended ICU stay. Her family has tried their best to get her treatment time and again, but the lack of funds has always posed a challenge and cut their efforts short.
The family’s monthly income is just INR 2,000 - with these meagre earnings, a treatment costing as much as INR 50 lakh is impossible for them to afford.
“We could not get her operated on because we just didn’t have the money for it. My father works as a labourer. He had to educate the kids at home as well, so we could not get her proper treatment, although we did our best. Even if we were to sell all our jewellery and land, we would still be short on money and would not be able to meet her treatment expenses. We don’t have any valuable assets we can sell or mortgage.” - Rukmani