‘MN’ is a 44 year old domestic helper who is undergoing treatment for Stage 3 breast cancer in the Philippines. She first discovered a lump in her right breast in October 2019 while working, and ignored it at first; she kept working until April 2022 when she went back to the Philippines to take care of her mother’s health.
Nature of Need
*21st Oct Update* This $7,560 amount has been corrected to $5,660 after an error in calculations from our team – we had erroneously included the earlier non-fundraiser SSF pledge to the final tally. MN’s listing has been fulfilled as of 21st Oct, and the latest contributor, Grace, who made a large contribution to fulfill this need, generously requested for the excess amount from their contribution to still go to MN for her future needs.
*20th Oct Update* Amount was previously $10,816, and was revised down to $7,560 after a change in MN’s chemo schedule.
While visiting, MN experienced severe bleeding from her breast and she was found collapsed in the toilet by her family. She was rushed to the hospital where her haemoglobin level was 57g/L (usually between 120-150 for women), and she needed 4-5 bags of blood transfusion. After a CT scan, mammograms, and a biopsy, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. MN has been receiving treatment in the Philippines since.
MN’s doctors advised her to begin chemo in the last week of July, and she has been attending chemotherapy sessions every 2 weeks. The frequency of these sessions will increase as she progresses in her treatment. Since April, MN has spent all of her savings on her hospital bills and daily expenses, and is currently depending on our team for support. We have sent MN $1,900 via the SSF thus far, and after discussing with her, have decided that a larger fundraiser would be more feasible going forward to support her needs.
MN had worked in Singapore for 6 years before recent events led her to return to the Philippines and her current health situation. Currently, she depends on her family for finances, and is unable to pay for her cancer treatment on her own. She supports a 10 year old son, and has aspirations to continue working as a domestic helper once she recovers from her cancer.
Domestic workers perform care work – work that is often underpaid and underappreciated. But who cares for the carer? In MN’s case, despite discovering her breast lump three years ago, she forgoed raising the issue to her employers. Workers in this position often live in silence about their medical conditions due to a number of reasons, including fear of termination and a lack of finances to seek treatment as most employers do not foot hospital bills that are not insurance-claimable. This puts workers in situations where they have to continue their care work for their employers while neglecting their own needs. We are relieved that MN is currently getting the medical support she needs, but no worker’s life chances should hang in the balance like this. While there are mandatory twice a year health checkups for domestic helpers, we have heard from some helpers that this is a basic checkup and is primarily to screen for pregnancies. What tangible, care-centric options do workers have when they face situation’s like MNs’? The first step to meaningfully tackling this is for more robust insurance coverage – even for diagnostic examinations – and stronger laws to protect workers who are ill from wrongful termination.
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If you do not use PayLah!, contact Jill via @jellymould to discuss other payment modes.
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