Cancer patient seeks help to return home to Sri Lanka

A Sri Lankan woman in Dubai with stage 3 ovarian cancer has appealed to the public for help to settle her debt so she could fly back home to be with her dying mom.

“My mother said, ‘Before I die, come see me.’ And I told my mother, ‘I will come before you die. And before I die, you will see me,” Hathiba Bee, 52, a former driving instructor, tearfully told Gulf News.

Bee’s mother, 90, was severely injured recently when they were evacuating from their home in Colombo due to a tsunami warning. Bee could not go home as a travel ban had been imposed on her since she defaulted on credit card and personal loan payments in 2010. This was the same year she was diagnosed with stage 3 ovarian carcinoma.

“I was vomiting and [suffering] loose motion; I had dizziness and all. My stomach became big and swollen. Then, I didn’t know why I couldn’t get up from the bed one early morning. So I went to NMC; they admitted me immediately,” Bee said.

Bee was hospitalised for one month. Her condition made it impossible for her to report to work regularly.

“Then they [employer] said, ‘If you are going like this, we will lose our students. The students want you and they have been waiting for a long time. Take some rest’,” she said.

Bee, who has been in Dubai for 30 years, said she rested for more than six months. By the time she reported to work again, it was too late. She had been laid off.

During that period, her bank loan and credit card loans had ballooned to more than Dh100,000. She said she could not get another job as a driving instructor as companies refused to hire her because of her outstanding debt.

Bee has been living off on the charity of other people ever since. Dubai Charity handled her six-month chemotherapy and sometimes, food expenses too.

A widow, Bee said her only hope was her son. But even he was a victim of circumstances when he was allegedly framed for stealing by a co-worker at the airport. Besides losing his job, he will also serve a prison term of three months.

Bee, whose visa expired in March this year, is currently staying at the accommodation provided by her son’s former company. But once he stops work in July, she will be evicted from the house along with her son’s wife and three kids.

“I feel bad. But what to do?” Bee said, in tears. She said: “The situation is like this now. If I have to work, I don’t mind. Because first thing I have to do is to clear my bank [loan] then only can I work in some other institute.”

But the vomiting and the dizziness recurred recently.

“They say it will spread maybe after one year and I have to come for check-up. When I went for another scanning, they said ‘You have problems in the breast also’,” Bee said.

Doctors said her cancer has spread as they have found black lumps in her breasts. But since she does not have money, Bee cannot go for final scanning as yet.

Due to her medical condition, the bank’s recovery agent told Gulf News that they had agreed with Bee to cut down her balance to Dh35,000 as final settlement.

This, Bee said, is something she would like to appeal for help from the public.

“I need help to clear this thing and to go home so I can stay with my mother for some time,” Bee said. “I just want to ask [help] from the nation that if I’m dying, please, I want to die without debt.” (Gulf News)