Naw Ku is 36 years old and has come to the Thai-Burma border to seek treatment for a large lump growing in her right breast. It started off small but is now very big and causing her a great deal of discomfort and concern.
Naw Ku teaches maths, science and all the core subjects in English at a private primary school in Rangoon. She has been in that job since 2002. She noticed a small lump in both of her breasts about six years ago. She couldn’t see them but could feel them. She did not go and see a doctor because she did not think it was serious enough. She didn’t think the lumps would increase in size however in June 2010, her right breast started to get very big. The capillaries became visible and her breast appeared to be a blue colour.
Naw Ku’s friend works at the Mae Tao Clinic and she advised Naw Ku to come to Thailand to seek treatment. Compared to most people in Burma, Naw Ku is relatively well off and has a good job and education. However, she didn’t go to the hospital at all in Burma because it is difficult to trust the hospital system and she says that they charge you at every step of the way. An operation that is not expensive can become very expensive as each medical practitioner tries to charge at every stage. This also makes the process very long.
Naw Ku Paw travelled to Mae Sot in late March 2011 and came straight to the Mae Tao Clinic. She was referred onto Mae Sot Hospital for an x-ray. A biopsy was done and the pathology reveals that the lump is not malignant despite its size. It is possible that it is a fibroadenoma but a Phyllodes tumour cannot be ruled out.
Naw Ku is saddened by her condition. It was very difficult for her to leave her job and travel to Thailand. Her future is uncertain as she wants to get treatment but doesn’t want to lose her job. It is clear that she needs to have the lump removed and she can get it removed in Chiang Mai, Mae Sot or back in Burma. For her piece of mind it is better that she go to Chiang Mai and see a specialist as Naw Ku says that she feels pain and general ache in her breast area and that she is very worried about it.
Naw Ku has requested three months leave from her job. It will depend on how long the treatment takes as to whether she can return to her same job. She says that she is lucky she has a good job. This enables her to help poor children who are unable to attend school to attain an education. She hopes to get better so she can return to work and help more children.