Mira’s Story 9
When Mira was a little girl, she dreamed of living in a big
house, with electricity and a tile floor. Her husband would be
handsome and kind, and she would be able to do whatever
she wished. But Mira’s family was poor, and she was the
youngest of four daughters. Sometimes, when her father was
drinking, he would beat her mother, and weep at his misfortune
of having so many girls.
When Mira was 14, and old enough to be married, she cried when she
learned her dreams would never come true. It was already arranged: Mira
would marry a man whom her father had chosen. He had some land, and
Mira’s father thought the family would benefit from their marriage. Mira
had no choice in the matter.
With the birth of Mira’s second child—a son—her husband stopped
insisting on sex so often. Mira was very glad for that. Although he did not hurt her,
he had warts all over his penis that disgusted her. Over the next 20 years, she had
6 more children, including a little girl who died at age 3, and a boy who died at birth.
One day, Mira was using the latrine and she noticed a bloody discharge coming
from her vagina when it wasn’t time for her monthly bleeding. She had never had a
health exam, but now Mira asked her husband if she might see a health worker. He
replied that he didn’t trust doctors, and besides, he didn’t have the money to spend
every time she felt worried about something.
Mira was 40 when she began to suffer constant pain low in her belly. The pain
worried her, but she didn’t know who to talk to about it. Some months later, Mira
finally decided she had to go against her husband’s wishes and get medical help. She
was frightened for her life, and borrowed some money from a friend.
At the health center, Mira got some medicine for the vaginal discharge, although
the health worker did not examine her first. Mira returned home that night,
exhausted and upset that she had defied her husband and spent her friend’s savings.
As weeks passed, Mira’s health continued to worsen, and she became discouraged,
realizing that something was still wrong.
Finally, Mira became so weak that her husband believed she really was ill, and they
begged a ride to a hospital in the big city far away. After waiting several days, Mira
was seen at the hospital. Finally, she was told that she had advanced cancer of the
cervix. The doctor said they could remove her womb, but
that the cancer had already spread. The one treatment
that might save her life was available only in another
part of the country, and was very expensive. The
doctor asked, “Why didn’t you get regular Pap
tests? If we had found this earlier, we could
have treated it easily.” But it was too late
for that. Mira went home, and in less than
2 months, she died.
Where Women Have No Doctor 2012