Jean Starvis, a community health nurse in South Africa, shares the compelling story of one of her patients, Rosie, in her struggle to overcome pancreatic cancer pain. Courtesy of the Hospice Palliative Care Association of South Africa
Her name is Rosie – she is fifty five years old, lives in Ocean View, loves to read, Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers are her favourite singers and she has pancreatic cancer.
Rosie lives in a caravan in front of an apartment block in Ocean View, a windswept, economically challenged suburb in the south peninsula of Cape Town. It lies between the more affluent areas of Kommetjie and Fish Hoek. Rosie's little caravan is fastidiously neat, with a rail for sparse clothing above the bed and a tiny cooking area. There is no running water or toilet facility, which is very tricky for a sick person. The caravan is sauna-like in summer and almost has icicles from the roof in winter – everything is extreme.
Rosie started her chemo earlier this year and managed the inevitable side effects with typical stoicism. She felt horrible all the time (this was how she described it to me) but she cried tears of regret when she was told that the treatment was ineffective and would be stopped.