Sonia Mascarinas and her husband were farmers in Barangay Maliliol, Marinduque. Their children were grown up with families of their own and the middle-aged couple were very much involved with their little rural community. Mr. Mascarinas was a kagawad or village elder and Sonia was a volunteer nutrition worker, teaching young mothers how to feed their babies. She went from house to house, weighing young children to check if they were malnourished. Last year, she began to suffer from lower back pain and numbness in her legs. In Nov. 2011, she had surgery to get a renal cyst removed. For the first couple of months after, her recovery went well and she went about her normal activities.
By March 2012, the numbness and weakness in her legs had returned so that she limped and needed a cane. Then one morning in April, she awakened to find she could no longer walk. Doctors at the Philippine Orthopedic Center (POC) Spine Ward have diagnosed her with metastatic bone disease. They will remove a cyst on her spine which needs an open biopsy. Sonia is often all alone in the POC Spine Ward as her husband has to tend to their farm and her children cannot always be away from their own families or work. The relatives of patients in the neighboring beds help to look after her. The POC ward is so crowded that the beds are barely a yard apart and sometimes beds even have to be set out in the corridor.
When Sonia saw the wheelchair you sent, she couldn't help but weep for joy. She hopes that whatever the biopsy reveals, she can go back home and be part of her community.