Sheila’s hope

Dear Friends,

Let me tell you something about myself. I look unusual with dark patches on my face.  My skin looks dark and reddish but, despite my physical appearance, my friends say that my smile and my laughter bring light to the room.  Right now, I feel grateful that I am alive and free…BUT that was not the case before. Just like other patients who first learned from their doctors that they had leprosy, I felt betrayed and unloved by God. At that time, I wanted to end my life.  Only the thought of leaving my daughter alone kept me alive.

At first, I tried to hide my disease from relatives and neighbors. But my aunt learned about it and whenever we had misunderstandings, my aunt would go outside our house and shout “leper”!  Even my own family destroyed my personal things, thinking that these were contagious too.

Doctors told me that leprosy destroys one’s nerves if left untreated for a long time. My skin would become numb and I would not feel pain. But why did I feel so much pain from the way I was treated by my relatives? When my husband abandoned me and my daughter, why did it hurt so much? When I visited my husband’s workplace and he pretended not to know me, even denying that I was his wife, why did I feel so much pain in my body?  I asked myself so many times: Did I stop being a wife because of leprosy? Didn’t I deserve respect even if I had leprosy?

All these questions played in my mind as I continued taking the pills called Multi Drug Therapy (MDT). The MDT cured me of leprosy within 12 months . I am no longer contagious. But why do people cringe when I get near them?

In this dark and lonely path, I prayed for light.  God, the source of life and hope, led me to join the PGH Hansen’s Club where I found encouragement, met new friends, and got a deep understanding about leprosy.  Through the Philippine Leprosy Mission’s (PLM) support of Hansen’s Club activities and projects, we were empowered economically and strengthened to trust God more in our daily lives. Little by little, I gained back my confidence and developed the courage to live independently. The livelihood training activities sponsored by PLM such as the soap and rug making helped me and other members augment our incomes.

I am glad I did not give up. My husband came back and we are now facing life’s challenges together. I have hope for the future and I am continually praying that our community will no longer discriminate people like me who had the disease… I hope they will show us compassion and understanding… just like my aunt who now calls me by my own name…





4 thoughts on “Sheila’s hope

  1. natz says:

    Hello po Im natz 37, years old from Iligan City, I was diagnosed with Hansen’s , last month because of the red pathches on right hands and feels numb, i also had swollen red patches on my left face 70% of it i cant even see clearly because of my swollen face, in one month time it spread that fast, now i was taking MDT one month after i see some part of my swollen face collapses and i can blink my left eye without any pain, i did not go to work anymore its because of my appearance only my family knows of my condition as i am afraid to tell my neighbor’s and friends about my condition and look now. I always pray to god that oneday i will be healed. If this time comes i would like to be a spoke person encouraging everyone who has this disease to overcome depression as i do before i always cry seeing i cannot hug,kiss my nephew and nieces, today is my second set of taking MDT. I am still looking for more encouragement and hope that i will be healed.
    thanks for your words.
    God Bless,

    • admin says:

      Dear Natz,

      Please be encouraged that leprosy is curable. After a month of taking the MDT you are no longer contagious and you can hug and kiss your nephews and nieces.
      We advise you to complete the treatment as prescribed by the doctors. eventually the swell in your face and the patches will subside. Your skin will turn darker because of the medicine but take heart it will eventually turn back to your normal color. You just need to keep a healthy lifestyle and disposition. Drink a lot of water, multivitamin (with zinc and B-complex) and rest. Since leprosy will take time to heal, you need a lot of patience…Ask your doctor if you need physical therapy. Please be encouraged… this too shall come to pass..the good news is…leprosy is curable. Call us if you need someone to talk to for counseling.

      Best regards and God bless you.
      Marisa Cambel
      Philippine Leprosy Mission
      mobile: 0918-561-9831 (office hours)

    • Mou says:

      Natz… same here I was devastated when I learned that I have Hansen disease its like am I going to die? I second d motion to Maam Marisa’s comments it takes time to heal. Take your medicine on-time. I hope I can talk to you by fon para mka storya tag tarong.. if possible post your number sa comments for me to call you. just buy new sim para d ka mailhan…

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